South African Opera Star Pretty Yende Receives Italian Knighthood

South African opera star Pretty Yende received the Order of ‘Knight of the Italian Star’ at a ceremony at the Italian Consul in Cape Town, on Tuesday afternoon.

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Pretty Yende felt humbled by the Italian Knighthood. Photo: Louis Heyneman

Italian ambassador Emanuele Pollio made an amazing speech in which he called Pretty both a daughter of South Africa and of Italy; and joked that she could steal his job because she has been “an extraordinary ambassador of the Italian culture in South Africa”.

She is the youngest South African ever awarded this prestigious decoration.

Pretty said afterwards on social media: “This has been the most extraordinary gift I could have ever wished for. Ordine Stella d’Italia (OSI)- an Italian knighthood presented by the Italian Consul in Cape Town Emanuele Pollio.


“Being a recipient of ‘The Order/knight of the Star of Italy’ deeply humbles and fills me with immense gratitude for such an extraordinary decoration💞#prettyjourney #prettyblessedgirl”

Pollio said the decoration couldn’t suit her better since ‘opera’ means italy, and ‘opera’ means Pretty Yende in South Africa.

One of the first to congratulate her was Louis Heyneman, CEO at Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, who was present at the event. Her South African mentor, Professor Angelo Gobbato – originally from Milan – was also there (seen in the pictures below).

Heyneman said that Pretty’s speech – both in English and Italian – “was most inspiring and graceful”.

South African opera star Pretty Yende receiving the Order of “Knight of the Italian Star” from the Italian Consul in…

Posted by Louis Heyneman on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

WATCH Pretty Yende receive Italian Knighthood

This has been the most extraordinary gift I could have ever wished for. Ordine Stella d'Italia (OSI)- an Italian knighthood presented by the Italian Consul in Cape Town Emanuele Pollio. Being a recipient of ‘The Order/knight of the Star of Italy’ deeply humbles and fills me with immense gratitude for such and extraordinary decoration💞#prettyjourney #prettyblessedgirl🤗

Posted by Pretty Yende on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pretty is one of the most famous names in opera today, performing in Paris, New York and around the world. Her story is as beautiful as her name.

She grew up in Piet Retief, where music was always part of her family’s home life. In previous interviews she’s recalled how “every time after supper, we would all sing as a family”. (They would sing a church hymn.)

For Pretty, her singing career began at five in a way, when her grandmother started teaching her songs to sing in church.

And, as the now famous story goes, as a school girl at 16, she had never heard of opera or classical music until she saw a British Airways advert on TV – the Flower duet by Lakme.

The next day she asked her high school teacher what it was and if it was “humanly possible” to sing. When the teacher told her it was opera, Pretty said: “Well, you need to teach me that.”

#CongratulationsPrettyYende #AnotherBeautifulSouthAfrican #MakingSAProud