Opera Superstar Pretty Yende Performs with Princeton Symphony Orchestra

South African Opera Superstar Pretty Yende sings with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in the New Year with performances January 14-15. Photo Credit Elena Cherkashyna

Newsroom Post: Princeton, NJ


Princeton, NJ–The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) offers an exciting start to the new year with South African opera sensation Pretty Yende. The widely acclaimed soprano, whose introduction to opera at 16 was through a TV commercial, is coming to Princeton to perform arias from Gioachino Rossini‘s Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and Giuseppe Verdi’sLa traviata as well as Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Under the direction of Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov, the PSO will play overtures from operas by Rossini and Verdi, plus Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Performances take place Saturday, January 14 at 8pm and Sunday, January 15 at 4pm at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.

Other guest artists appearing with the PSO in 2023 include pianist Inon Barnatan (February 4-5), guest conductor Sameer Patel and violinist William Harvey (Seven Decisions of Gandhi – WORLD PREMIERE – March 11-12), and violist Roberto Díaz (May 13-14). The PSO’s 2023 Princeton Festival (June 9-25) will include an opera, orchestral concerts, chamber music, Broadway tunes, a Baroque performance, and much more.

Rossen Milanov is thrilled to kick off 2023 with the high notes of an opera-focused program. He says, “Opera provides us with an incredible range of storytelling featuring powerful music and beautiful arias, many of which stand on their own as perfect musical vignettes. In Pretty Yende, we have a fantastic soprano who sings from the soul, bringing heartfelt interpretation to every note.”The January program also serves as a preview of the 2023 Princeton Festival in June as The Barber of Seville is the centerpiece of this year’s extravaganza at Morven Museum & Garden.

Photo Credit Elena Cherkashyna

Born in South Africa, Pretty Yende reached the top of her opera career with extraordinary speed, and quickly became one of the brightest stars in the world of music. After her debut at the Latvian National Theater in Riga as Micaëla in Carmen, she performed in all major international theaters, including Royal Opera House, Opéra National de Paris, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, La Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Wiener Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zürich, and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Recent successes include her Metropolitan debut as Countess Adèle in Le comte Ory, Maria in La fille du régiment, and roles like Rosina, Adina, Lucia, Juliette, Elvira, and Pamina. She made her debut at the Opéra National de Paris as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, followed by a new production of La traviata staged by Simon Stone, and a return as Lucia di Lammermoor. Additionally, last season she made her debut with four heroines in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. Highlights on the concert stage include her Carnegie Hall recital, concerts in Switzerland, Spain, Austria, South Africa, Germany, Italy, France, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and USA.

In “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s comedic Il barbiere di Siviglia, Pretty Yende sings as the character of Rosina, who is musing about how she will trick her tyrannical guardian in order to be with her preferred suitor. In Verdi’s “È strano! – Ah, fors’è lui – Sempre libera” from La traviata, she portrays the courtesan Violetta who wonders at her attraction to the noble Alfredo, which runs counter to her love of freedom and independence. Ms. Yende further displays her versatility as she sings Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a work inspired by the eponymous prose poem by James Agee which later served as the prologue for the author’s 1957 novel A Death in the Family. Classic opera overtures and Aaron Copland’s celebrated Appalachian Spring performed by the PSO complete the program.

Prior to the Pretty Yende concert weekend, Austin Stewart explores James Agee and Samuel Barber’s approaches to coloring in their own childhood memories with Knoxville: Summer of 1915. The PSO Soundtracks presentation, titled Knoxville and the Lost Generation, takes place Thursday, January 12 at 7pm at the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room. It is free and open to the public. Soundtracks is offered as a PSO BRAVO! community enrichment program in partnership with the Princeton Public Library.

Tickets for all Princeton Symphony Orchestra orchestral concerts range from $30-112; youth 5-17 half-price. For concert tickets and information about the Princeton Festival, visit princetonsymphony.org or call 609-497-0020.

Photo Credit Elena Cherkashyna

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