The Journey of Pretty Yende, Opera Singer

The Journey of Pretty Yende, Opera Singer

Pretty Yende OIS, born on March 6, 1985, is a remarkable South African opera singer known for her captivating performances as a coloratura soprano. Her talent has graced prestigious stages around the world, including La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, where she has portrayed leading roles in various operas.

Pretty Yende

Born 6 March 1985 (age 39)

Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Alma mater
  • South African College of Music
  • Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Occupation Opera singer (soprano)
Years active 2009–present

Early Life

Hailing from Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, Yende’s journey into the world of opera began at the age of 16, inspired by a British Airways TV advertisement featuring the Flower Duet from Lakmé. She pursued her passion by enrolling at the South African College of Music, where she honed her skills under the guidance of esteemed teachers like Virginia Davids. Yende’s dedication and talent led her to graduate with top honors. She furthered her training at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, solidifying her place as a rising star in the opera world.


Yende’s career skyrocketed after winning multiple prizes at prestigious international vocal competitions, showcasing her exceptional talent and vocal prowess. Her debut at La Scala’s academy marked the beginning of a series of acclaimed performances, earning her recognition alongside renowned artists like Bryan Adams and Andrea Bocelli. Yende’s Metropolitan Opera debut in 2013 solidified her status as a leading soprano, captivating audiences with her enchanting voice and magnetic stage presence. Throughout her career, she has portrayed a diverse range of roles, from the comedic Adèle in Rossini’s Le comte Ory to the tragic Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata.

Yende’s career is a testament to her remarkable talent and versatility in the world of opera:

  1. Early Performances at La Scala: Yende’s journey began with standout performances at La Scala, where she took on roles like Berenice in “L’occasione fa il ladro” in 2010 and Elvira in “L’italiana in Algeri” in 2011. Her exceptional performances paved the way for her to tackle more challenging roles.
  2. World Stage: She graced the world stage alongside renowned artists like Bryan Adams and Andrea Bocelli, participating in the closing concert of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and appearing in Bocelli’s Live in Central Park concert in 2011. These experiences showcased her talent to a global audience.
  3. Metropolitan Opera Debut: Yende made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York City in 2013, portraying Adèle in Rossini’s “Le comte Ory.” Her performance was hailed by critics and marked the beginning of her successful career on the prestigious opera stage.
  4. Return to La Scala and Performances in New York: She returned to La Scala for “Le comte Ory” in 2014, solidifying her reputation as a leading soprano. Yende also graced the stages of New York, performing in productions such as “The Magic Flute” at the Met and making her Carnegie Hall debut in a solo recital.
  5. Versatility and Collaborations: Yende showcased her versatility by portraying various iconic characters, including Susanna in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Los Angeles Opera and Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” at the Paris Opera. She also collaborated with artists like Yanni and Plácido Domingo, contributing as a primary artist to the track “Ode À L’Humanité” on the album “Inspirato” in 2014.
  6. Continued Success: In 2018, Yende portrayed Adina in Bartlett Sher’s acclaimed production of “L’elisir d’amore” at the Metropolitan Opera, further cementing her status as a leading soprano. Her career reached new heights in 2023 when she performed at the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla, delivering a captivating rendition of “Sacred Fire.”

Incident in Paris:

In June 2021, Yende courageously spoke out against alleged police brutality and racial discrimination she experienced at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Her account on social media shed light on the challenges faced by individuals of color, sparking conversations about systemic racism and discrimination.

Awards and Recognition:

Yende’s exceptional talent has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Silver Order of Ikhamanga and the Siola d’oro. Her contributions to opera have earned her international acclaim and admiration, making her a role model for aspiring musicians worldwide.

Pretty Yende has garnered numerous awards and honors throughout her illustrious career:

  1. Siola d’oro (2011): Yende was honored with the Siola d’oro award in 2011, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the world of opera.
  2. Arca d’oro Italia Young Talents Award (2012): She received the Arca d’oro Italia Young Talents Award in 2012, acknowledging her exceptional talent and potential as a young opera singer.
  3. Silver Order of Ikhamanga (2013): In 2013, Yende was conferred with the Silver Order of Ikhamanga, a prestigious honor bestowed upon her for her remarkable achievements and international acclaim in opera, as well as for serving as a role model to aspiring young musicians.
  4. Women of the Year Awards (2013): Yende was recognized as one of the winners of the 2013 Women of the Year Awards by Glamour South Africa, further highlighting her impact and influence in the field of opera.
  5. Mbokodo Award (2013): In September 2013, she received an Mbokodo Award in the category of opera, underscoring her significant contributions to the arts and culture landscape in South Africa.
  6. Best Recording Solo Recital Award (2017): Yende’s album “A Journey” earned her the Best Recording Solo Recital Award at the 2017 International Opera Awards, reaffirming her exceptional artistry and musical prowess.
  7. International Achiever Award (2019): At the 23rd South African Music Awards, she was honored with the International Achiever Award, recognizing her achievements on the global stage and her role in promoting South African music internationally.
  8. Readers’ Award (2018): Yende received the Readers’ Award at the 2018 International Opera Awards, as voted by opera enthusiasts and fans, further highlighting her popularity and acclaim within the opera community.
  9. Cologne Opera Award (Kölner Opernpreis) (Year): She was bestowed with the Cologne Opera Award during the city’s Floraball, acknowledging her significant contributions to opera and her impact on the cultural landscape.
  10. Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy (2019): In recognition of her exceptional contributions to the arts and culture, Yende was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy in 2019, further solidifying her status as a distinguished opera singer and cultural ambassador.

Discography and Opera Roles:

Yende’s impressive discography includes captivating recordings like “A Journey” and “Dreams,” showcasing her versatility and artistry. She has portrayed a wide array of iconic opera roles, from the spirited Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro to the enchanting Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula.

Here’s a breakdown of Pretty Yende’s impressive opera roles:

  1. Berenice – L’occasione fa il ladro (Rossini)
  2. Elvira – L’italiana in Algeri (Rossini)
  3. Priestess – Aida (Verdi)
  4. Barbarina – The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
  5. Norina – Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
  6. Musetta – La bohème (Puccini)
  7. Comtesse Adèle – Le comte Ory (Rossini)
  8. Lucia – Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
  9. Micaëla – Carmen (Bizet)
  10. Juliette – Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
  11. Fiorilla – Il turco in Italia (Rossini)
  12. Pamina – The Magic Flute (Mozart)
  13. Rosina – The Barber of Seville (Rossini)
  14. Susanna – The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
  15. Adina – L’elisir d’amore (Donizetti)
  16. Elvira – I puritani (Bellini)
  17. Amira – Ciro in Babilonia (Rossini)
  18. Marie – La fille du régiment (Donizetti)
  19. Zoraide – Ricciardo e Zoraide (Rossini)
  20. Leïla – Les pêcheurs de perles (Bizet)
  21. Amina – La sonnambula (Bellini)
  22. Violetta – La traviata (Verdi)
  23. Manon – Manon (Massenet)
  24. Stella/Olympia/Antonia/Giulietta – Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)

Pretty Yende’s extraordinary journey from a small town in South Africa to the world’s most prestigious opera houses is a testament to her talent, resilience, and unwavering dedication to her craft. Her captivating performances continue to inspire audiences worldwide, solidifying her place as one of the most renowned sopranos of her generation.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.