“Yoncheva is a singer of great versatility who, initiated in the baroque waters by the hand of her admired William Christie, has been expanding her repertoire, something that the phenomenal presence of her instrument undoubtedly helps. Yoncheva’s voice initially had a more evidently lyrical color, and although she moved (and continues to do so) with ease in coloratura and with enviable firmness throughout the range of her tessitura, it does seem evident that over time she seems to be evolving at a weight that brings it closer to the dramatic. The timbre is particularly pleasing in the middle register… . A voice, in any case, of impressive character and irresistible appeal that, added to an overwhelming personality and an overwhelming theatrical presence, make her a singer who captivates at first hearing.
Yoncheva showed in them sensitivity, temperament (her Au pays où se fait la guerre is wonderful), contagious passion and energy (the aforementioned Donizetti song) and charm (exquisite Chausson’s last two scores), but perhaps the best thing about this first part came with the beautiful grace of Haï luli! by Viardot, a page where the best lyricism and agility of the Bulgarian shone and, of course, with the vibrant, suggestive and sensual piece by Delibes, presented with both vocal perfection and captivating temperament, culminating in a high C of enviable firmness and roundness, shortly before the end.
The second part took us to Italy, but not to the most operatic Italy, the one we hear most often in the hands of this and other singers, but rather that of the art song, not only in the hands of some of its best-known authors, such as Tosti, but of composers of whom we are more accustomed to the world of the aria or operatic fragment, such as Verdi or Puccini, whose contributions to the world of song are much less frequented. We must thank Yoncheva, because she gave us the opportunity to listen to music of great beauty.
Four Puccini songs to whet your appetite (Sole e amore, Terra e mare, Menti all’avviso and Canto d’anime), works written between 1882 (the youngest Puccini) until 1904 (the year of the first version of Madama Butterfly) , drawn with sensitivity and expressive depth in the song, especially evident in the dramatic translation of the third of the aforementioned songs.
Similar characteristics adorned the songs of Martucci (Al folto bosco, placida ombría) and Tosti (L’ultimo bacio, Ideale). Beautiful the end of the second of the latter… .
Three songs by Verdi closed the program, all of them framed in the initial period of the composer (In solitaria stanza, from the Sei romanze of 1838, Ad una stella, from the collection of the same title as the previous one, of 1845 and L’esule, of 1839). Works that, although not straight out of operas, seem to be, because they contain the frenetic and youthful energy and melodic luminosity of the first Verdi. And that’s exactly what Yoncheva gave us last night. Resonance, firmness, vocal presence, theatrical instinct of the best and absolute dedication.
Despite the stifling heat (Yoncheva was the first to make generous use of the fan; it couldn’t be any other way), the recital was a resounding success, and the Bulgarian, who also has an enviable hook with the public, gave away three encores: Donde lieta uscì, from Puccini’s La Bohème, subtle and full of poetry, the inevitable Habanera by Bizet’s Carmen (in a very free reading of rubato and dramatized with cuddles for the pianist, whose pulse quickened even though he didn’t show it) and Adieu, notre petite table from Massenet’s Manon. A great performance, with an unusual but beautiful repertoire, served with excellence by Yoncheva and Martineau.
Rafael Ortega Basagoiti, Scherzo
“Sonya Yoncheva shines with the most operatic song”
“All the pieces seemed expressly chosen so that, even though they were not virtuous arias, the soprano could show off her best skills as a soloist”
“The soprano Sonya Yoncheva possesses, without a doubt, one of the most relevant voices on the current opera scene. With her lyrical timbre but with an enormous dramatic capacity, dazzling power and dark color, she is capable of interpreting everything from Monteverdi or Cavalli arias to Bulgarian popular music, shining above all in the great roles of the 19th century written for her register . This is how she demonstrated it, for example, in her recent Norma at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, showing an undeniable stage presence as a priestess and an extension in her vocal production which is right for the size of her character.
As an interpreter especially gifted for opera, then, in her recitals or concerts, the soprano, as is logical, usually chooses to sing, accompanied by piano or orchestra, fragments of the roles that she has interpreted the most on stage, as she proposed, for example , in her Liceu debut last April, or in her last appearance at the Teatro Real together with Plácido Domingo. However, for this occasion, at the Castell de Peralada Festival, which is beginning its last week, Yoncheva put together, with the pianist Malcom Martineau, an art song program without arias, focused exclusively on French and Italian Romantic songs. Thus, with the choice of inspired songs for voice and piano by Chausson, Duparc, Puccini or Verdi, the recital aimed to recreate a more intimate and reserved atmosphere in the Carmen church, without the theatricality and exuberance required to give voice to heroines like Violetta, Cio-Cio San, Gilda or Mimì.
However, Yoncheva, wanting to offer her best skills as a leading soloist, brought the refined and calm poetics of French mélodies and canzones to her expressive and dramatic terrain. In this way, all the pieces seemed expressly chosen so that, even though they were not extremely virtuosic arias, the soprano could display her virtues: a robust emission in the high register that more than filled the resonance of the church and an exciting mastery of dynamics and pianissimi, as well as an extremely communicative musicality in the singing line. (…)
Of the chosen repertoire, the growing and culminating emotion of Hai Iuli! by Pauline Viardot and the Spanish rhythms that Yoncheva gracefully imitated in Les filles de Cadix by Delibes, as well as the effusive waves of La vie antérieure by Henri Duparc, on a love poem by Charles Baudelaire, which could only be followed, like all the lyrics , through the digital program on the mobile phone. In the second part, the two beautiful melodies by Francesco Paolo Tosti stood out and, finally, the enthusiastic audience vibrated with the final cadence of Verdi’s L’esule, prior to the three encores that closed the evening.”
Aniol Costa-Pau, Opera Áctual
“Sonya Yoncheva, between intimacy and passion”
“The Bulgarian soprano opens the series of recitals at the Carme de Peralada church
Just a few days after triumphing as Norma at the Liceu, Sonya Yoncheva gave a recital this Tuesday at the Carmel church accompanied by pianist Malcolm Martineau, with art songs from the French and Italian romantic repertoire. (…) … well-calibrated high notes and pianos and strong contrasts … impeccable in agility, fair in sensuality and with a finale ending on a high note hat delighted the audience.
Here [in the second half] the communication with the public was total. In the four songs by Puccini, she brought out her expressiveness, especially in Sole e amore, with lively emotion and a silky voice, and in Al folto bosco, placid ombri, by Giuseppe Martucci, very passionate. Francesco Paolo Tosti’s Ultimo bacio and Ideale passed in a controlled manner in the first and lyrical and melancholic in the second, with wonderful pianos and legatos, as if preparing for the Verdi that was to come. In In solitaria stanza and Ad una stella, Yoncheva revealed the omnipotence of her Verdian voice, all passion, with strength in the vibrato and a beautiful low register capable of creating enchanting chiaroscuro, while in L’esule the Bulgarian made the audience jump on their chairs with loud applause.
The encores were also memorable with a passionate Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen– caressing the pianist and throwing him a rose at the final high note – and a tender and nostalgic Adieu, notre petite table from Massenet’s Manon.”
Marta Porter, Ara
“In the very beautiful Carmen Church (but with formidable reverberant acoustics), and accompanied by the excellent Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau, Sonya Yoncheva proposed a two-parts program: a first one devoted to the French Melody (Duparc, Chausson, etc.), and a second to the “canzoni italiane” (Puccini, Martucci, Verdi…).
[In the Italian songs] her unique and rich timbre, with an exceptional extension in the high register, allows her to shine. Here are the dynamic variations of the breath that color the notes, and pieces such as “Terra o mare” by Puccini, “L’ultimo bacio” by Martucci, or even “L’esule” by Verdi, benefit from her perfect vertical vocal emission and her ardent voluptuousness. It is nevertheless even more in the four encores that she offers to an exalted Catalan public (“Donde lieta usci” from La bohème, Carmen’s Habanera, the famous “Vissi d’arte” and the moving “Adieu notre petite table” excerpt from Manon) that she radiates the most, because she delivers each of her opera arias with her usual dramatic and/or emotional intensity, viscerally embodying each of the characters she interprets. As for Malcolm Martineau, her faithful accompanist when she offers voice/piano recitals, he shows constant attention and a great bond with the artist.
The ecstatic audience acclaimed the Bulgarian diva for a long time and loudly!”
Emmanuel Andrieu, Opera Online
“Regarded as one of the most acclaimed and interesting performers of her generation, she boasted a highly varied repertoire ranging from early music to great operatic pieces. The first part of the concert was dedicated to art songs from the French romantic repertoire and the second part to the Italian repertoire.
The soprano offered a high-level vocal recital that began with music by Henri Duparc, the Parisian author responsible for some of the most beautiful songs ever composed in the language of Proust.
The program opened with L’invitacion au voyage , inspired by Charles Boudelaire’s text from Les fleurs du mal, and continued with Au pays où se hait la guerre , La vie antérieure and Chanson triste.
Haie luli! Was the song with which she continued, the work of Pauline Viardot. The singer and composer belonged to the García dynasty, she was the daughter of the Sevillian tenor Manuel García and sister of the famous singer Maria Malibran. The song chosen for tonight was a sample of the artist’s melodic talent.
Ernest Chausson has also starred in part of the recital with three pieces that represent romanticism within the framework of French melody.
The audience at the Carmen church appreciated some evocative songs, especially the third and last, Sérénade italienne, which transported viewers to the enchantment of a night on board a ship, under the moonlight, in the midst of the waves.
Of the Italian Donizetti a song was heard in French entitled Depuis qu’une autre a su te plaire, a piece that speaks of nostalgia, loss, heartbreak and disappointment.
In contrast to this last piece, the soprano performed Les filles de Cadix , by Leo Delibes, a virtuoso and brilliant piece, with a southern atmosphere and Spanish bolero forms that closed the first part of the show.
After the break, Yoncheva performed some select pieces by Puccini –Sole e amore, Terra e mare, Menti all’avviso and Canto d’anime–, a piece by Martucci entitled Al folto bosco, placida ombra, and two by Tosti –L’ ultimo bacio, L’Ideale–, the latter one of the most well-known in the last part of this afternoon’s programme.
The show ended with three pieces by Verdi with a surprising structure that practically turns them into arias like the ones that often appear in his operas.
Acclaimed by the applause of the audience, the soprano offered three encores that raised the entire audience from their seats: Donde lieta usci, Mimì’s aria from La Bohème; L’amour est un oiseau rebelle, from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet; and Adieu, notre petite table from Massenet’s Manon.
Far from the lightness that transfers the genre of songs to the piano, Yoncheva perfectly interpreted these long and demanding pieces, demonstrating her talent already recognized worldwide.”
Toda la Musica
Sonya Yoncheva and Domingo Hindoyan spoke with Zeinab Badawi for Take me to the Opera on BBC World.
This second episode of the series, which is called “The Art of Opera”, is now available to view online on the following link:
The video will remain online until July 2023. It is free to view in the United Kingdom, outside of the UK you can watch it using a VPN software.