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Pretty Yende - Dreams is KCRW 'Featured new Release'

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This week I'd like to share two new opera releases-one by stunning newcomer Pretty Yende and a second by the renowned veteran Luciano Pavarotti. Both CDs are highly recommended for devotees as well as opera neophytes.

Pretty Yende is a young South African singer who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom. She fell in love with opera after hearing the famous "Flower Duet" from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé on a British Airways TV commercial. She was just 16 and lived in the small town of Piet Retief, 200 miles from Johannesburg. Although she knew nothing about opera, Yende was determined to become an opera singer. She studied with Virginia Davids at the South African College of Music in Cape Town, and later joined the young artists' program at La Scala in Milan, graduating in 2011. By the time she was 27, Yende had starred at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She makes her Carnegie Hall debut in June.

Yende's new Sony Classical release Dreams is only her second album. I was immediately struck, quite simply, by the beauty of her soprano. Her pitch was spot on, the timbre of her voice gorgeous, and her command of difficult areas impressive. Critics in Europe and the U.S. have praised the beauty and power of her singing, as well as her acting ability. She was called "the miracle soprano" by Germany's Die Zeit. On Dreams she performs arias by Gounod, Donizetti, Bellini, and Meyerbeer.

READ THE FULL KCRW: Los Angeles - Classical ARTICLE