Album review: Pretty Yende’s first album showcases her many talents

A Journey documents her impressive lyrical abilities, her lustrous tone and, especially, her mastery of coloratura.
A Journey, an album by Pretty Yende. Courtesy Sony Music Masterworks
A Journey, an album by Pretty Yende. Courtesy Sony Music Masterworks

A Journey

Pretty Yende

Sony Classical

Three-and-a-half stars

What’s not to love about Pretty Yende? Her voice is delightful, her personality sparkles and her story is inspiring. Just 31 years old, Yende has gone from life in a South African township to stardom on the world’s opera stages.

Now her first album, A Journey, documents her impressive lyrical abilities, her lustrous tone and, especially, her mastery of coloratura.

Runs and trills are tossed off with seeming ease, and she can soar to a high E natural without sounding strained. The seven selections here, mostly bel canto arias by Rossini, Donizetti or Bellini, reflect stages of her story, triumphs in vocal competitions or important debuts.

She sounds lovely, with one reservation: There’s a slightly generic quality to her singing, a lack of interpretive depth beyond mastery of the notes.

In keeping with her personal narrative, she includes the Flower Duet from Delibes’s Lakme, with mezzo Kate Aldrich as partner.

It is by now part of Pretty Yende lore that her interest in opera was sparked by hearing the tune in a British Airways TV advert when she was 16.

The most interesting choice on the album is the Poison Aria from Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, which requires a heavier lyric voice than bel canto. Yende does a good job of capturing Juliette’s fearfulness and determination, and her voice is surprisingly robust in the climaxes.

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: September 25, 2016 04:00 AM

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