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Critical praise for concerts in Montpellier, Baden-Baden and Toulouse

In July 2021, Sonya Yoncheva starred in concerts at the Festival Radio France of Montpellier, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse. Read some of the rave reviews Sonya received for her appearances translated into English here below:

Montpellier concert:
“Happy audience of the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier, to which Sonya Yoncheva and Domingo Hindoyan have been loyal in recent years. After performing in concert Mascagni’s Iris in 2016, then Giordano’s Siberia in 2017, the soprano and the conductor, who are real life husband and wife, are back for a “carte blanche” given to Sonya Yoncheva. The Swiss-Venezuelan conductor is placed at the helm of the National Orchestra of Montpellier Occitanie, and the understanding with the group seems both artistic and cordial during the course of a wide variety of musical excerpts.

Luisa Miller’s overture thus goes crescendo from a rather slow start to a volume that gradually increases, along with the dramatic relief it draws, but without exaggeration. The soloists are in good shape, like the solo clarinet, very much used in this Verdi overture. A few purely instrumental passages will also subsequently provide the necessary rest time for the soprano, such as Cavalleria Rusticana’s very soothing Intermezzo, which later contrasts sharply with a lively, alert and brilliantly played South American passage. We imagine that for this page, the carte blanche was shared with her husband, the conductor appearing like a fish in the water to breath all the breaks in tempos to the brass and percussions, in swaying rhythms that make you want to stir on your seat.

It is in a black gown that Sonya Yoncheva comes on stage to perform an exceptional grand aria by Luisa Miller “Tu puniscimi, o Signore”, with her voice of considerable ampleness and equal beauty throughout. The low notes are full and just as impressive as some overwhelming high notes, as the performance constantly moves the listener, with rich and varied colors. Rusalka’s “Song to the Moon” charms with its suggestiveness, immediately giving one the impression of being transported with the singer at night in the middle of nature to gaze at the sky. We then notice that the soprano’s exits from the stage are punctuated with large hand gestures and kisses in the direction of a specific position in the room: it is the son of the family, a little boy with boundless energy, apparently the first fan of the diva!

Cavalleria Rusticana’s Intermezzo is almost given a second time not in its instrumental version, but in its “Ave Maria” adaptation, sung with great interiority. A Puccini sequence follows with Anna’s aria in Le Villi (“Se come voi piccina io fossi”), during which Yoncheva detaches the petals of a flower one by one, before a masterful “Un bel dì, vedremo” . What a full-bodied low register, what power over the high note of the last word – “aspetto” – and what a commitment! Some deep breaths add further drama to the situation (…) But Sonya Yoncheva also seems to be able to sing absolutely anything she wishes, as evidenced by the rest of the program which borrows more from the song repertoire. It is first of all ” L’Amour en héritage ” which Nana Mouskouri performed on a somewhat syrupy orchestration, a sweet aria beautifully sung tonight, (…) The singer is in any case a visible pleasure during “C’est la saison d’amour” made popular by Yvonne Printemps, singing and dancing to this waltz rhythm.

“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle ” as an encore confirms that Sonya Yoncheva can do anything, a personal interpretation which adds tiny slowdowns then accelerations, subtle variations in the reprise of the couplets, which makes this most rehashed aria fascinating for any opera lover. After the “Hymne à l’amour ” made famous by Edith Piaf, a reprise of the aria from Butterfly, at the request of the standing audience, concludes the splendid concert of one of the stars of the moment in the opera planet.”
Irma Foletti, Bachtrack

“This Friday, the 2021 edition of the Radio France Occitanie Montpellier Festival came to an end after many appointments characterized by the youth of the artists, as recalled by the opening speech of the event. A real final bouquet for which the festival had appealed to a “friend”, Sonya Yoncheva, who came with her family since her real-life husband, conductor Domingo Hindoyan, conducted the Orchestra National Montpellier Occitanie in front of a delighted audience, who counted in in its ranks a very special guest: the young son of the couple who joined his parents at the end of the greetings. All in a very timely themed program in these troubled times: love, whether in Italian, Spanish, Czech or French.

While there are artists whose enthusiastic fervor sometimes remains a mystery when first discovered on stage, there are others you only have to see once to immediately understand why they are so acclaimed and requested. This is the case with Sonya Yoncheva, whose dedication, talent and generosity are evident from the first note.

In this evening devoted to love, the first part is more characterized by heroines with unhappy loves, starting with Madama Butterfly and Luisa Miller. The evening begins with the overture of this last work, having in mind the musical forces deployed by the Montpellier phalanx in great shape, and galvanized by Domingo Hindoyan’s jovial and concentrated direction. An opening with fanfare, but what a fanfare! Symphonic, homogeneous and powerful, spread throughout the stage but united in the music. The Bulgarian soprano then enters the scene, with a big smile and exuding sympathy and a beautiful energy, all fully accessible. She greets, then, with a snap of a finger, her face darkens, seriousness inhabits her and she becomes the character she plays, without the need for any directing. She thus goes on “Tu puniscimi o Signore” and “A Brani, a brani, o perfido”, both from the same opera, allowing her velvet vocal instrument, which enwraps the audience’s ears, to shimmer. The line de chant is controlled with flexibility and nuance, letting momentum emerge during the evening without ever losing the captivated attention of the audience. She then changes register to deliver a bewitching “Mesícku na nebi hlulokém” (Rusalka), all in grace and pleasure.

The orchestra continues this sweet momentum with the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana, taking us on a peaceful walk, full of wonder and discovery of enchanting places. Sonya Yoncheva then returns for Ave Maria from the same work in a seamless sequence. The rhythm increasingly accelerates with La Tregenda from Puccini’s Le villi, and “Se come voi piccina”, an aria with which she returns on stage with a flower from which she throws petals to her husband. The acme of this first part dedicated to unhappy love remains however certainly “Un bel dì, vedremo” (Madama Butterfly), with an overwhelming Cio-Cio San, of a vibrant interpretation, from head to toe and passing through the heart. And it is natural that thunderous applause accompanies the singer when she comes back on stage with Domingo Hindoyan.

Although without an intermission, the second part easily differs from the first: after the unhappy loves, it’s time for happy love and rediscovered love, with the Latin warmth of Conga del fuego (by Arturo Márquez). In the hall, we can see many heads nodding in unison with this sunny rhythm that makes hearts dance. As for the songs, the soprano gives the audience a nice surprise by honoring the language of Molière with “L’amour en héritage”. (…) Another great way to show that operatic art is not confined to the classical repertoire alone, on the contrary. The public clearly appreciates this attention, which continues with “C’est la saison d’amour” (Yvonne Printemps), preceded however by “No me mires” (Lolita Torres), happy love thus finally expressing itself between the French and Spanish ..

This is how the evening comes to an end when it seemed like it was just getting started. The audience, totally seduced, applauds the couple with joy and obtains two encores, again two real gifts for a French hall. First of all, Carmen’s Habanera, interpreted, as we can imagine, with a game of connivance between the conductor and the singer who does not hesitate to show her husband when she sings “il n’a rien dit mais il me plaît ” before kissing him at the end of the aria. Then, it is Edith Piaf’s turn to be honored with the Hymne à l’amour, in an ultimate interpretation reminiscent of the one offered during the 2020 Paris Concert where she had already offered this song mythical to the audience. A beautiful statement that still touches so much and whose magic has not faded for a moment over the years.

Totally seduced, won over, and grateful, the public in turn shows their love for the soprano by reserving thunderous applause and a standing ovation. After thanking the audience for a long time, Sonya Yoncheva called her child to join her on stage before going backstage. But the audience did not stop, and in the face of their enthusiasm, the couple finally returned to the stage to repeat, after a few words in French, Madama Butterfly’s aria, always superb and very emotional. It is therefore natural that the audience rises once again to thank the artists for their generosity and for an end-of-festival recital which, through this carte blanche, takes on the appearance of a final bouquet but also a surprise bag that we delighted in discovering throughout a wonderful and unforgettable evening.

More than a recital, we recognize here the prerogative of the great artists who, by their generosity, their humanity and their talent, offer a real moment of communion, around a positive feeling that is sometimes sorely lacking, and even more. today: love!”
Elodie Martinez, Opera Online

“Summer festivals – Le Corum de Montpellier under the spell of Sonya Yoncheva

Arriving on stage in a magnificent black gown that Luchino Visconti would not have repudiated if he had put it on stage, Sonya Yoncheva begins the concert with “Tu puniscimi, O Signore” then the cabaletta “A brani… a brani, o perfido ” from Luisa Miller, one of the Verdi roles that she has made her own for a few years and in which she has always been able to be convincing. Throwing herself in the battle with vocal means which, from the very beginning, seem to us to have widened in the low end of the voice, which is not surprising given the type of post-romantic repertoire she has been increasingly performing, the Bulgarian diva is, unlike the previous concert of 2018 – and in the same aria – more assured in the way she approaches the high notes of the cabaletta, always formidable, and the overall result proves to be convincing.

“The Song to the moon” from Rusalka allow us to recognize the marks we know as being typical of Sonya Yoncheva: beautiful legato, meaty timbre, ability to vary colors, powerful projection, so many qualities which are obviously found in the Puccini arias chosen for this concert (Anna’s aria “Se come voi piccina io fossi” from Le Villi, “Un bel dì vedremo” from Madama Butterfly) and in the Ave Maria by Mascagni. (…)

… the choice of the program is particularly happy, including in the second part where the three waltzes of Oscar Strauss (the so stylistically demanding: “C’est la saison d’amour”) alongside Vladimir Cosma (“L’amour in inheritance ”) then, as an encore Marguerite Monnot (“ L’hymne à l’amour”).

A white-hot National Orchestra of Montpellier-Occitanie

Total satisfaction on the orchestral side: meeting again the Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan -Sonya Yoncheva’s husband -, the National Orchestra of Montpellier-Occitanie is in great shape, and this from a Luisa Miller overture with the particularly exposed flute concertino and perfect strings attacks. The intermezzo of Cavalleria Rusticana but, also, the frenetic music of the Sabba in Le Villi – too rarely given in concert – confirms refinement and ardor among the eminent qualities of this orchestra. As for the Latin American repertoire put on the program by the conductor, it allows us to discover the music of Arturo Marquez (born in 1950), with his “Conga del Fuego Nuevo”, and Mariano Mores, composer of tangos with a sustained rhythm which particularly emphasizes the brasses.

We cannot help ending by remarking the palpable bond throughout the program between Sonya Yoncheva and Domingo Hindoyan, particularly embodied in Carmen’s habanera where the diva and the conductor get caught up in the game of seduction, ending by knocking the audience over in what was perhaps the most successful moment of the evening. Being called for one more encore, Sonya Yoncheva gives again in front of a conquered audience “Un bel dì vedremo” with perhaps even more emotion.
Hervé Casini, Premiere Loge

Baden-Baden concert:

“It is therefore with a program that she gives all summer in several cities of Europe that the Bulgarian diva “helps out” the Festspielhaus, except that, contrary to her custom, she is accompanied by her husband, the Swiss-Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan. In principle, the couple works separately, except for special occasions or Christmas holidays. The Baden-Baden gala therefore falls into this category … Sonya Yoncheva had already participated in the closing gala in the past, accompanied by a number of stars, as for Le nozze di Figaro, for example. This was before the current health constraints. (…)

For the rest, the beautiful Bulgarian star, dressed in an intense emerald-colored dress with an alluring drape, gives us some of her favorite arias in her current repertoire: a “Tacea la notte” from “Il trovatore”, ample, noble and very much alive, the magnificent and delicate “Song to the moon” from Rusalka without mawkishness but intense and poetic, as well as an excerpt from Iolanta, magnificent but very short, during the first part. It is undoubtedly an appetizer intended to tempt us, because Sonya Yoncheva will return to the Festspielhaus for a concert version of Iolanta, sublime and far too rare opera by Tchaikovsky.

After the intermission, surrounded by a new pale pink lamé dress and a wide vaporous ruff, loose hair, the diva enchants the audience with the “Ave Maria” from Cavalleria Rusticana before moving us, with all the science of her know-how, as Mimì then as Cio-Cio-San. How not to melt … To get an idea, you can listen to her on the program Fauteuils d´orchestre, in replay, in the same repertoire. (…) Certainly, the Würth Philharmoniker valiantly supported the soprano’s impressive and commanding vocal projection, with a Domingo Hindoyan in great shape, ravishing smile and unwavering conquering ease, (…) This is good, because it is with “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” that Sonya Yoncheva begins her encores. She and her husband have just received the ritual bouquet from which the star pulls out a flower. This is where she starts a seducing show for the conductor, electrifying the entire room. Not only is her diction extraordinarily precise, but the Bulgarian soprano, who also speaks French very well, succeeds in accentuating this or that vowel with an originality and relevance reminiscent of Maria Callas’ work on words. We hold our breath as the femme fatale caresses her lover’s arms and chest with her rose, in a seductive operation of torrid eroticism. We feel too much, with a vague worry about what will happen next: will the orchestra be able to play through to the end of the aria? Don’t panic, the amorous pair knows their stuff (we can get an idea with the same aria performed in this same place in 2017, still available on the singer’s youtube channel) and the Habanera ends with the flower thrown in the conductor’s face by an unbridled diva. The audience is obviously delighted. A final encore is offered, which is the repetition of “Adieu notre petite table” for the second time in the evening, when the aria was not initially on the program …”
Catherine Jordy, Forum Opéra

Toulouse recital:

“The great soprano Sonya Yoncheva made her debut on Monday night on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, wonderfully accompanied at the piano by Antoine Palloc, in a program centered around Italian melodies and opera arias.

Verdi (his early years) and Puccini were in the spotlight this evening: an opportunity to better appreciate, thanks to Sonya Yoncheva’s very beautiful interpretation, the clear difference in vocal treatment between the two composers. Similarly, these melodies find the characteristic style that they will each develop in their operas (musical-dramatic language for the former, veristic for the latter). But the Bulgarian soprano was also keen to introduce the audience, who came in large numbers, to composers less familiar to listeners, such as Paolo Tosti, Pier Adolfo Tirindelli, or Giuseppe Martucci who composed “Al folto bosco” on the very beautiful text of poet Rocco Emanuele Pagliara.

In dazzling vocal form, Sonya Yoncheva approached every aria with the natural ease she is known for and astonishing technical agility. The homogeneity and flexibility of her velvety timbre pose no difficulty to her, and allow her to modulate at her convenience every nuance of feelings, even in the most demanding pages (Verdi’s “The Exile”): whether in impalpable pianissimi, triumphant high notes, or a creamy medium.

She addressed a few words to the audience and offered them an encore, including a charming interpretation of Carmen’s aria (“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”) and a moving Manon’s “Adieu” in a distinct and very seductive French . “I’m going to sing a Farewell… but it’s just a goodbye,” she slips mischievously at the audience, who in return tossed “Thank you! ».

Standing ovation therefore well-deserved on Monday night for Sonya Yoncheva, who will return to France on July 30 at the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier with the Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier under the direction of her husband Domingo Hindoyan. ”
Frédéric, Harmonies Électives

[Photo: © Marc Ginot]