Pretty Yende made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2013, as result of a last-minute change in casting that both delighted and switched things up in the opera world. She has gone on to become one of the most accomplished and charismatic coloratura sopranos of her generation and her art has earned her universal recognition.
Growing up in South Africa, Yende loved singing. She however developed an interest in opera at 16 and through hardwork and personal development she graduated from the South African College of Music, and the La Scala Theatre Academy. She however hit the Opera stage by age 27, a decade after.
In 2016, she played “Lucia di Lammermoor at the Paris Opera” and became the first black woman to sing the character on a Western stage. Ever since then, Pretty Yende has continued to gain international attention for breaking long-held barriers in the opera world and continues to speak about diversity in casting.
“Being the first black Lucia at Lincoln Center is huge for me. Being the first black Lucia in Paris is huge for me. Being the first black person to have a new production of La Traviata in Opera Garnier in Paris is huge for me,” Yende said. “But I think that’s not important. The important thing is that we have this art that allows us to partake in a universal language of love through the music. And I hope that we as artists, and the opera industry in general, are playing a big part in teaching the world equality when it comes to that.”