Whether it’s Gounod’s Juliette and her pursuit of the eternal happiness of youth, the desperate yearnings of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, or the passionate delusions of the sleepwalking Amina from Bellini’s La Sonnambula, the most powerful soprano arias are those whose characters face up to adversity and are determined to dream of better things. South African soprano Pretty Yende’s ambitious second major-label album shows her to have the extraordinary technique to tackle these virtuosic challenges, but a depth of tone and expressive maturity to give her characters their fortitude—even at the edge of an emotional abyss.

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