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Interview with L’Officiel

Sonya Yoncheva was interviewed by L’Officiel while she was was in Buenos Aires to perform at the Teatro Colón. A part of the feature is now available online and you can read it on the following link:

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“One can feel sorry for anyone who missed this” – press review for Berlin Recital

Sonya Yoncheva gave an acclaimed recital at the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden on November 27 with her program “Ad una Stella” accompanied by Malcolm Martineau. The press is entusiastic about the evening as well, with Berlin’s two most important newspapers, Tagesspiegel and Berliner Morgenpost having published rave reviews:

“Recital with Sonya Yoncheva at the State Opera: One can feel sorry for anyone who missed this

The Bulgarian soprano is currently one of the best singers alive. She proved this again during her recital in Berlin.

Even though it has become winterly cold on the Unter den Linden boulevard: Sonya Yoncheva needs no running-in phase, no warm-up, she enchants from the first moment. The Bulgarian soprano is giving a recital at the Berlin State Opera, and with the opening note of Giacomo Puccini’s “Sole e amore”, this voice is completely there, in all its fullness and splendor, fiery, organically and confidently formed, it is a force and a pure pleasure to listen to.

Italian composers are not the first ones that come to mind when it comes to song, and in this respect too, the evening opens up all the senses. Puccini wrote eleven compositions for piano and voice, Yoncheva brings their inherent drama to life and effortlessly reaches the top notes. This woman is, alongside – yes still – Anna Netrebko, one of the best singers of all time.

She is discreetly accompanied by Malcom Martineau, who charmingly takes advantage of every piano solo opportunity; In the lovely “L’ideale” by Paolo Tosti, the striking main melody, which oscillates between longing dreaminess and tender hope, is written for the piano alone. The three songs by Giuseppe Verdi (“In solitaria stanza”, “Ad una stella”, “L’esule”) that are being heard that evening cannot hide the opera composer at all; they constantly seem to break out into an aria, the last one even has the classic Italian division of arias into Cavatina and Cabaletta.

The best comes at the end

(…) After the intermission, “real” opera arias by Puccini are being proposed. Yoncheva slips into roles like into dresses: as Tosca in “Vissi d’arte” she embodies a woman in an absolutely exceptional situation with a desperate but still razor-sharp voice, as Mimì in “La Bohème” she embodies a terminally ill but still smiling creature, as Cio-Cio-San in “Madama Butterfly”, a tragic lover who stands on the shore and imagines the return of the loved one, who is a phantom – and almost seems like Wagner’s Tristan, who is waiting for Isolde’s ship.”

The best part, however, comes at the end, with the encore: Sonya Yoncheva can switch the lever at will, now she is no longer an abandoned person, but an abandoner, Bizet’s freedom-loving Carmen, and how in the Habanera she not only beguiles the colleague at the piano who turns the pages, but also Martineau himself so much that he can hardly play during this moment – that makes one feel pity for everyone who missed this evening.”
Udo Badelt, Tagesspiegel

“With star soprano Sonya Yoncheva, everything sounds so easy

Berlin. The Bulgarian opera singer Sonya Yoncheva gave a song recital at the State Opera for an enthusiastic audience of connoisseurs.

Sonya Yoncheva gives a recital at the Unter den Linden State Opera. The tickets are not expensive at all – given that the Bulgarian soprano has been one of the most celebrated opera singers worldwide for years. Judging by the fact that each of her last solo appearances in Berlin was a musical gem. And considering that she is also no stranger to the State Opera audience (Cherubini’s Médée). (…)

… her brilliant accompanist on the piano, the Scot Malcolm Martineau. In the first Puccini song “Sole e amore” he stands out because he is inconspicuous. This inconspicuousness appears with the highest level of competence in the form of a finely chiseled, bright, and detailed playing. Martineau doesn’t have to provide the main line in this musically colorful depiction of the soul landscape – Yoncheva does that. It gives her lines an inner movement. Later, with intensive, songs by the later Giuseppe Verdi, this distribution of parts in this wonderful sound mix will change fundamentally; now Martineau is the man for the soft sound carpet. The evening remains exciting, especially if you pay attention to the eventful musical interaction between the two.

No coughing blurs the aura of the singing during this concert

But also by focusing exclusively on Yoncheva one doesn’t miss anything. And the audience proves itself to be an explicit song audience by doing just that. Even in this time of colds, no cough in the audience blurs the aura of the 41-year-old Bulgarian’s singing, even in the song by the historical-romantic singer Paolo Tosti “L’ideale” with its pianissimo middle section “E ti senti ne la luce, ne l’ aria”, Yoncheva’s somnambulist balance of vocal line and articulation can be understood consistently and precisely.

When you listen to Yoncheva perform the Wagnerizing Giuseppe Martucci, the hyper-romantic-atmospheric Puccini, and the passionate Verdi, you don’t automatically remember that what sounds easiest from a musical and technical point of view is always the most difficult, presented with the most intense artistic intention. With Sonya Yoncheva everything sounds easy, presented directly from the depths of her soul. It requires a mental step to grasp the extraordinary nature of this singing.

But you don’t necessarily have to do that and you can also just enjoy the star’s charming diva-like acting in the diligently applauded Carmen encore.”
Matthias Nöther, Berliner Morgenpost


It is always something special to experience an opera star not in a role, but in the intimate atmosphere of a recital – and sometimes more than “just” special.

November 27, 2023 is a cold winter evening. Fine snow dances from the Berlin sky as I sit down expectantly at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. The orchestra pit has disappeared under the stage, where the grand piano shines alone.

Sonya Yoncheva enters the stage with her pianist Malcolm Martineau as unpretentiously as the simple stage setting, a bright screen onto which light is cast in a satin-like pattern.

She seems so approachable that I can’t help but think of the videos she posted on Instagram during the first Corona lockdown, in which she sang from her kitchen to an audience that, like her, was sitting at home and didn’t know what would happen next.

This is exactly Sonya Yoncheva who is now on stage: no lavish evening dress, no sparkling jewelry, no elaborate hairstyle, no glamorous make-up.

Sonya Yoncheva doesn’t need to collect herself, doesn’t need to create tension. She doesn’t wait with her eyes down before beginning, no, she simply sings Puccini’s “Sole e amore” and has caught her audience before the first note is sung.

Devotedly and virtuosically accompanied by a visibly in good spirits Malcolm Martineau, Sonya Yoncheva leads us effortlessly and full of emotion through songs and arias by Italian composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, showing with her voice the entire range of human emotions across all registers, paired with an enormous richness of vocal colors.

Every note is perfectly placed and filled with sparkling overtones that make you think the house isn’t big enough to contain this voice.

Sonya Yoncheva remains as unpretentious as her appearance every second. Humble and connected to her audience in a way I have never experienced in a recital before.

And perhaps what makes this evening so incredibly special is that there is a woman on stage whose big heart you can notice on stage, who continually seeks and finds eye contact with her audience. She sings the songs and arias in a way that doesn’t need words, because the energetic dialogue that Sonya Yoncheva has with us allows you to understand exactly what it’s about at every moment.

At the end of the recital, “Un bel di vedremo” reveals, as a kind of treat, that next February we will probably experience a different Cio-Cio-San on this stage than the usual Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly: one sung more courageously with more facets.

After a deserved minute-long standing ovation and two encores, Sonya Yoncheva finally says goodbye with “Adieu, notre petite table” from the opera “Manon”, but not without first assuring “this is a good-bye, not an adieu”.

I cried a lot that evening. And I leave the State Opera filled with happiness that will resonate in my heart for a long time.
Heike Franke, Operaversum

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