Wowing the world

THE name Pretty Yende might be irrelevant to you unless you are a opera follower. But this South African soprano is wowing the world.

Earlier this year In Vienna, Austria, Yende, pictured, won the first prize in the category Opera and Operetta, as well as the Audience Prize and the Prize of International Media, reported.

Last year she graduated cum laude in her diploma in opera studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) under the tutorship of Virginia Davids.

Yende is pursuing post-graduate studies with the professor.

This was the first time in the history of the competition that one singer had won all the first prizes.

Yende, from the South African College of Music at UCT, competed against 3000 other young singers from all over the world in the competition's qualifying rounds in nearly 50 cities. said only 159 of the singers had qualified for the final round that took place in Vienna.

Meeting with her during a rehearsal I was blown away in the first verse and eventually dazed as her voice synchronised perfectly with the music.

Her three steps to success are: "Desire, determination and hard work".

Yende says hard work should becomes a part of you.

Yende's musical journey began when she was 5 years old, walking to church with her grandmother.

Whenever they took some time to rest during the journey, the old lady would open the hymn book and teach Yende a song, which they would sing on their way.

She recalls the exact moment she decided to be an opera singer. We have to thank a TV advert for South Africa having an opera superstar today. Though she cannot remember what the advert was for, all she knows is that it featured a black horse and some heavenly music.

"I want to sing like that," she said at the time.

The stars in her eyes as she made that statement revealed the passion she has for opera.

At her first school choir rehearsal Yende was told to drop singing, but amazingly she replied to her teacher: "I want to sing opera, teach me."

She tells a story about when she was in high school and had to choose between opera and accounting. Yende obviously chose opera.

Then she made a deal with her parents. She said that if there was no measurable progress in her second year of studies she would pursue accounting.

But she wanted to be successful so she worked very hard.

"You can change any situation you find yourself in."

Admitting that opera is white-dominated in South Africa, Yende says: "I looked beyond the politics".

She believes music is a universal language understood by all. Then quoting Michael Jackson, she says: "The arts can heal anything".

Yende believes that perfection is not necessary, you should just love what you do.