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New York Times: Pretty Yende Unmasks a Promising Opera Career

LONDON — It turns out, the hay bales caused it. Sitting in a cafe a stone’s throw from the Royal Opera House in London, the opera singer Pretty Yende of South Africa whipped out her smartphone to show an Instagram photo of herself in a surgical mask during rehearsals for her London debut in the opera “L’Elisir d’Amore” in May. She had come to London two weeks earlier for rehearsals for her role as Adina, and for the first two days she could not stop sneezing.

“I thought, ‘It is London, it is worse than Milan, and it is this time of year and you expect it,’ ” she said referring to pollen allergies and adding that when she is not traveling she resides in Milan. “But the moment I entered the rehearsal room the worse it became,” and in her apartment that night she was convinced she was getting a cold.

But the next day she realized that the small rehearsal room was filled with raffia — palms that are found in tropical parts of Africa — made to look like hay bales for props for the opera, and it (or the dust on it) got her allergies churning, and she had to take a week off. She asked for a mask to use during rehearsals, and found that it actually helped her become more conscious of her sound. Once the raffia was moved onto the large stage, her allergies calmed down.

“It was interesting technically because I found and learned things I was not aware I was doing,” she said. “The sound that comes out, I do not need to open my mouth so much.”

She will reprise the role of Adina — minus the allergies, she hopes — at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in January and will also perform the title role in “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the Met starting in March, a role she will also perform at the Deutsche Oper Berlin later this month. It is a busy time for the 32-year-old, who will be performing in “Fra Diavolo” at Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma in October and “La Fille du Regiment” at Seville’s Teatro Della Maestranza during November and December — and her second album, “Dreams,” will be released at the end of October.

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New York Times: Why Salzburg is a Must Visit for Classical Music Lovers

SALZBURG, Austria — It has long been said that Austrians in general and Salzburgers specifically simply do not understand the obsession with the Oscar-winning film and Broadway musical “The Sound of Music,” which is set in Salzburg around the time of the Anschluss in 1938. Read more

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Teen Vogue: Promoting Education Through the Kakenya Center for Excellence

ENOOSAEN, KENYA: When Kakenya Ntaiya was 12 years old, her best friend of the same age got married. Kakenya knew that she — like most of the girls in her community in southwestern Kenya — faced the same future. She was already engaged to her neighbor’s son, and it was planned that they would marry after Kakenya had finished undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). Read more

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Scientific American: Creepy Swimmer’s Itch Parasite in Lakes Can Scratch Summer Fun

FRANKFORT, MICHIGAN–Every morning for about eight weeks each summer, Leslie Ritter becomes bait. As head of the lifeguarding program at the Congregational Summer Assembly (a vacation community in northwest Michigan), Ritter wades into Crystal Lake up to her knees. After 30 minutes she gets out and records wind and temperature data. If her skin starts to tingle, she knows something in the lake is after her—and swimming lessons are canceled.

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Washington Post: For Visitors to Senegal, a Closer Look at the Salt Lake Harvest

LAC ROSE, SENEGAL-Not surprisingly, my tracksuit-wearing guide slid onto the back of his dromedary with great ease and aplomb, barely noticing that the camel let out a huff as he settled into the saddle, and lifted the rope that was attached to its jaw. I, meanwhile, was hesitant, gingerly stepping to the animal’s side, leery of being spit on. Read more