return to In SongOctober 20, 2022
Steeped in Zulu culture in the timber city of Piet Retief, iconic soprano Pretty Yende grew up buoyed by family and a tight-knit church community, surrounded by love and a collective joy for singing.
As Yende prepares to make her San Francisco Opera debut in the new production of La Traviata, this music-rich episode of In Song opens a window into the world of this enchanting artist, following her home as she visits with her congregation and her family, and performs with the young students of her alma mater, the Ndlela Secondary School. Yende recalls her grandmother, who on their five-kilometer-long walks to and from church planted "the first seeds of music in my soul," and the ten-second opera encounter through a TV ad that made her dream of singing music she had never before imagined.
From overcoming a "very, very small voice" as a member of the school choir to winning national competitions to training in Cape Town, we see her early journey to international stardom. In Cape Town, pioneering opera singer Virginia Davids, who broke color barriers on the opera stage, recalls working with Yende to "find the inner truth of every role," while coach and impresario Angelo Gobbato encouraged her not to seek perfection, but "to cross the threshold of touching the soul."
Featured performances include the Zulu traditional song, "Iqhude," as well as excerpts of Donizetti "L'amor funesto," performed with pianist José Dias.