Sonya Yoncheva - biography

Following a series of spectacular debuts at the world's leading opera houses, soprano Sonya Yoncheva has been heralded as one of the most acclaimed and exciting performers of her generation.

She has become an acclaimed fixture on the most important stages of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Teatro alla Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, Berlin State Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, and the Opéra de Paris. Her unforgettable portrayals of iconic roles have received tremendous acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Of her performances in La traviata at the Staatsoper Berlin, Die Welt proclaimed: "She is the finest Violetta since Maria Callas. The Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva is possibly the best Traviata in the world at present.”

Sonya Yoncheva’s extensive repertoire includes jewels of the Baroque canon, as well as works by Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Puccini. Celebrated for her distinctly beautiful voice and exceptional dramatic presence, Sonya is equally at home on the concert and recital stage, having performed to critical acclaim in several cities including Paris, Dresden, Baden-Baden, and Munich.

Current Season

Ms Yoncheva's starry 2018/2019 engagements include her title role debut in a new production of Cherubini's Médée for Statsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, followed by her return to the Metropolitan Opera as Desdemona in Otello and in the title part of Iolanta. Sonya returns to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden as Desdemona in a new staging of Otello, a role that also leads her to the Berliner Philharmonie for concert performances with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. She also reprises her acclaimed portrayals of Tosca at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and Opéra de Paris, Violetta in La traviata at the Teatro alla Scala and Norma at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Performances on the concert platform lead her in Rossini's Stabat Mater to the Philharmonie of Paris, in gala concerts to the Teatro alla Scala , Opéra de Paris and the Savonlinna Opera Festival, in recitals to the Monte-Carlo Opéra, Teatro Real of Madrid, Rosey Concert Hall and Teatro del Lago Frutillar (Chile) and in solo concerts to the Berliner Philharmonie, The Broad Stage of Santa Monica, Hungarian State Opera in Budapest, Liège Opera House, Teatro del Bicentenario in Guanajuato (Mexico) and Mexico City. 

Highlights of past seasons

Ms Yoncheva began the 2017/18 season in Paris, where she made her debut as Élisabeth de Valois in a new production of Verdi's Don Carlos, followed by performances in one of her signature roles, Mimì, in a new staging of Puccini's La bohème, all for the Opéra de Paris. She then travelled to New York's Metropolitan Opera, where she made her highly praised debut in the title role of a new production of Puccini's Tosca, and reprised her portrayal of Mimì in La bohème. Additionally, Ms Yoncheva debuted in the title role of Verdi's Luisa Miller in the first Met performances of the opera in more than ten years. Following this string of engagements, Sonya Yoncheva made her role debut as Imogene in a new production of Il pirata at the Teatro alla Scala and starred as Poppea in a new staging of L'incoronazione di Poppea at the Salzburg Festival. Sonya sang in concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Grand Théâtre de Genève and Konzerthaus Dortmund on an all-Verdi programme, in addition to being the soloist at the Bayerische Staatsoper's annual outdoor summer Festival Concert “Opera for All”. She was named the 2017 medici.tv Artist of the Year, and was featured on a series of live online and archived broadcasts in celebration of this recognition.

During the 2016/17 season, Ms. Yoncheva debuted in the title role of Bellini’s Norma and sang Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann at Royal Opera House, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and was Mimì at the Teatro alla Scala. Ms. Yoncheva also returned to The Metropolitan Opera as Violetta in La traviata, and was a featured artist at the Met’s Gala Concert celebrating its 50th Anniversary at Lincoln Center. Sonya sang a full Verdi Gala concert in her home country of Bulgaria, a recital for the Turku Music Festival, and embarked on a concert tour featuring Baroque repertoire with Academia Montis Regalis which was highlighted on a Sony Classical album release.

In addition to her star turn as Violetta, Ms. Yoncheva’s 2015/16 season included celebrated performances as Desdemona in The Metropolitan Opera’s season opening production of Otello; Micaëla (Carmen) at the Royal Opera House; Mimì (La bohème) at the Staatsoper Berlin; and the title role in Iolanta at Opéra de Paris. She was also a featured artist at the annual Adventskonzert in Dresden, broadcast on ZDF in Europe.

Other past performance highlights include several Metropolitan Opera appearances, featuring her debut as Gilda in Rigoletto and star turns as Mimì in La bohème, Violetta in La traviata, and Desdemona in Otello; Violetta at the Staatsoper Berlin, the Palau de les Arts Valencia, Monte Carlo, and the Bayerische Staatsoper; Marguerite in Faust at the Vienna Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House, and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden; Léïla in Les pêcheurs de perles for the Opéra Comique Paris; and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor for Opéra de Paris.

Sonya Yoncheva is an alumna of William Christie’s Le Jardin des Voix and has maintained a special focus the Early and Baroque repertory. Past engagements have featured her in several iconic roles, including Phani/Zima (Les Indes galantes) and Dido (Dido and Aeneas) on tour with William Christie in Europe, Russia and the US; La Fortuna (L’incoronazione di Poppea) at the Glyndebourne Festival; Giunone (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria) at the Teatro Real; Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) in Versailles; and Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Poppea (Agrippina) in Lille and Dijon with conductor Emmanuelle Haim.

Education and Accolades

Born in 1981, soprano Sonya Yoncheva graduated with performance degrees in piano and voice in her hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria under the tutelage of Nelly Koitcheva. Sonya later obtained her master’s degree in voice at the Conservatory of Geneva, studying with Danielle Borst. Ms. Yoncheva is also the winner of several renowned international competitions, including top prize and the special CultureArte prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition (2010). She was honored as the Newcomer of the Year (Singer) at the 2015 ECHO Klassik Awards and received the Special Prize of the Les Amis du Festival for her performance of Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, at the Academy of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (2007). Sonya has also been awarded several scholarships provided by several Swiss Foundations including “Mosetti” and “Hablitzel.”

Sonya Yoncheva is also a first prizewinner of numerous competitions in her home country of Bulgaria: “Competition for Bulgarian Classical Music” in 2000 and “Competition for German and Austrian Classical Music” in 2001. Sonya and her brother Marin Yonchev were lauded as the Singers of the Year in the 2000 edition of the competition “Hit-1,” produced by Bulgarian National Television. Ms. Yoncheva has collaborated with acclaimed popular artists including Sting and Elvis Costello, and she retains a keen interest in film music, which includes her past collaborations with famed composer Vladimir Cosma.

Sonya records exclusively for Sony Classical, and is featured on a new solo album titled The Verdi Album, released in February 2018, on her solo album Handel released in 2017, in addition to her debut solo album Paris, mon amour, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and several recordings on DVD/Blu-Ray. Her discography also includes CD recordings of Le nozze di Figaro (Contessa) for Deutsche Gramophone and Handel’s Messiah with the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Ms. Yoncheva is also a global ambassador for Rolex.