How was Pretty Yende in Puritani?

How was Pretty Yende in Puritani?


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2017

Since the NY Times did not bother to review the Met’s late replacement for Elvira, here’s Zeal NYC’s report:

Camarena’s Arturo was every bit as good as expected, but Yende’s Elvira was spectacular in every way. She had only sung the role once before, in a non-traditional production last year in Zurich. It was a triumph for her, and Tuesday night’s performance, in a staging that could not possibly have been more different, has to count as another.

As singing, it was not perfect—Yende has something of a beat in her voice that takes a little getting used to, and she sometimes merged with the orchestra when she should have been floating above it—but as musical expression, it was peerless, and as a progressive revelation of character, it was meticulously thought-out and deeply convincing. Her acting was psychologically acute…

Read the full review here.



photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera


  • Alexander says:

    When I had a first glimpse at the head of this topic I read “how pretty was Yende….” Having read it completely I understood ( at least judging from the info you gave us) I didn’t make a perceptual error ( or whatever it is called )

  • Daniel F. says:

    The NY Times no longer publishes reviews of ANY classical music events on a regular basis and has not, for some time, published reviews of established Met Opera productions when a substitute has taken over a major role or even when there is a notable cast change. The paper is strictly in survival mode: its only interest is the bottom line.

  • Louise H says:

    She had three hours to learn the staging – not three days..

  • Bruce says:

    I wonder what he means when he says she has a “beat” in her voice.

    Also, “merging with the orchestra when she should have been floating above it” means the orchestra was too loud. Conductor’s responsibility, not hers.

    • Christopher Johnson says:

      I meant that there’s a rapid throb that gets a little metallic under pressure. It was less and less noticeable as she went along, so it may have been a tension-thing, quite understandable under the circumstances. None of this was meant to question her gifts: as we learned subsequent to publication, she only had a few hours to learn the staging, and all balance-issues had to be worked on on the fly, in performance. Small matters like this aside, it was a staggering accomplishment; I hope I conveyed that.

      • Bruce says:

        OK, that makes sense. I’ve heard the term before, don’t think I’ve heard a “beat” in real life; but from your description it sounds like I’d recognize one if I heard it.

        And yes, you made it sound like something I wish I could have been there for.

  • Marcus says:

    The accolades that Camarena receives are so baffling to me. The basic timbre of the voice is indeed very pleasant but oftentimes his stylistic default seems to take its cues from what used to be described as crooning, and also his technical foundation strikes me as being flawed. Having seen him in BARBIERE (twice – a performance last month and also his Met debut), SONNAMBULA, PURITANI and singing Liszt’s “3 Sonetti del Petrarca” at Carnegie Hall, I am each time taken aback by the shouts of “Bravo!” Yes, it is a rare pleasure to hear a tenor who can taper his phrasing and use varied dynamic levels but his singing also evinces signs of strain, particularly when singing fast, high or loud. He mentioned retiring Almaviva from his active repertory because he no longer felt wholly comfortable and vocal trouble was everywhere in evidence from “Ecco ridente” (cracked high note at the prima) all the way to “Cessa di piu resistere” (effortful coloratura). In fact, when I heard him in January, I thought he was singing with an unannounced indisposition. His stagecraft is fairly limited but he has an endearing warmth/personality and I imagine that is what audiences – and critics – are responding to with such luxurious goodwill. I would love to hear a Camarena admirer share his/her take on his voice and performances to better understand – and hopefully appreciate – this artist since he seems to be factoring heavily in the Met’s future performances of bel canto opera. Thank you.

    • Nik says:

      I’ve only seen him once, as Almaviva at Covent Garden last year, and found him very disappointing. The main issue was that he has absolutely zero stage presence or personality. He looked like a wet flannel in the hands of Daniela Mack’s Rosina, and the lack of chemistry was cringe inducing.
      His voice seemed pleasant enough, but his singing was quite undisciplined, with incessant embellishments and extra high notes that destroyed all the beautiful melodic lines.
      Admittedly, the production was originally made for Florez and such shoes are hard to fill, but Camarena wasn’t even second rate.

    • Christopher Johnson says:

      Points well taken. At the “Puritani” performance I reviewed, he sounded a little tight and dry when he first came on, and I had the same “Is he singing through a cold?” reaction you had. But he warmed up quickly and the voice evened out. The rest of it was very nice, and as I said in the review, the climactic duet in Act Three was really sweet and quite touching. It’s true that his dramatic skills are rudimentary, but at least he doesn’t semaphore or flounce about, getting in his own way and frightening the livestock. And he does have a nice personal manner that appeals to audiences, and that may turn out to be a mixed blessing if it tempts him to coast or pander. I see he’s scheduled to sing the Duke in “Rigoletto” next month in Barcelona. Should be interesting.