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“Sonya Yoncheva, supernova of the Bordeaux season”

Sonya Yoncheva brought her recital program Ad una Stella to the Opéra de Bordeaux in November. Here below you can read what the press said:

“Sonya Yoncheva, supernova of the Bordeaux season.

Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva returns to the Opéra National de Bordeaux for an exceptional recital, accompanied on the piano by Malcolm Martineau:

During her last visit to Bordeaux, she performed in the Grand-Théâtre. As the latter was busy preparing Rusalka, it was at the Auditorium that fans of the amber voice of one of the international icons of opera singing gathered.

Ad una Stella (“to a star”, in English): the title of this recital is taken from one of Verdi’s melodies, which resonates throughout the concert. But it could just as well describe the evening’s headliner, for Sonya Yoncheva is one of the stars of opera singing. Tosca in Verona, Madama Butterfly at the Vienna Staatsoper, Norma at the Met in New York: line 2023 of her CV alone would be enough to fill that of any of her fellow singers, and even make her a little jealous…


For the occasion, the Bulgarian soprano has compiled a program that is as musicologically interesting as it is vocally astonishing. Composed exclusively of melodies in the first half, it gives pride of place to opera arias after the interval. This is an opportunity to admire a few rare gems from 19th-century Italy (all sketches for their great arias, in which we recognize Verdi’s late Bel Canto and Puccini’s nascent absolute lyricism), before returning to the great classics (“Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, “Un bel di vedremo” from Madama Butterfly, “Donde lieta usci” from La Bohème, among others).

There were two Sonya Yonchevas this evening. In the first part, which is certainly dotted with a few high notes, but which emphasizes the passages between registers (head voice, supported mixed voice, chest voice), she shows great technical intelligence, not hesitating to favor a fearsomely effective spinto to save the fullness of the timbre, and conserve energy for the formidable peaks of the second part. (…) A few exceptions to this method are all the more noteworthy, such as Paolo Tosti’s Ideale, in which Sonya Yoncheva’s velvety midrange sends a soft glow through the entire hall.

Returning after the interval, the audience is prepared for a great thrill at the mere reading of the program. From the first high note of “Se come voi piccina” (Le Villi), the voice fills every corner of the auditorium, which becomes the tuning fork to which the emotion is tuned. This second, shorter part visibly spreads a permanent shiver through the auditorium, each climax triggering the next in a sound-saturated musical space where the soprano’s amber timbre unfolds. Her perfect technical mastery allows her to freely emphasize every inflection of the line, even with a movement of her arms, as well as to turn towards the galleries to let each spectator benefit from the direct impact of her voice.”
Olivier Delaunay, Ôlyrix

“To rapturous applause, she took to the stage in a superb mauve sheath dress, thanking the Bordeaux audience in French for their warm welcome. The enthusiasm she generates in this very special (and delicate) Italian Canzone repertoire is unmistakable, and her unique, rich timbre and gentle vocal inflections allow her to touch the heart. Here, variations of breath color the notes, and works such as Puccini’s “Terra o mare”, Martucci’s “L’Ultimo bacio” and Verdi’s “L’Esule” benefit from her perfect verticality and ardent voluptuousness.

But it’s in the Puccini opera hits of the second half of the evening that the audience most loudly expresses the voluptuous pleasure inspired by La Yoncheva’s vocal artistry. Whether in the famous “Vissi d’arte” and “Un bel di vedremo” or the rarer “Se come voi piccina” from Le Villi, the Bulgarian soprano displays all her verismo savoir-faire, and a voice with Callasian reflections: breath length and power are here as skillfully mastered as they are calculated, to trigger a lively emotion in the listener’s soul. And she delivers each of her operatic arias with her usual dramatic and/or emotional intensity, viscerally embodying each of the characters she interprets.

The ecstatic Bordeaux audience cheered loudly and long for the Bulgarian diva, who offered three arias as a reward for her rightful exaltation: “Oh mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi, the Habanera from Carmen, and the sublime aria “Adieu notre petite table” from Manon, in which she overwhelms both by the accuracy of her accent and the shapeliness of her vocal material.

As for Malcolm Martineau, her faithful accompanist when she offers voice/piano recitals, he demonstrates his undivided attention and complicity with the artist, who also shows off his talents as a “solo” pianist with a brilliant interpretation of Isaac Albeniz’s Tango en Ré. Bravo to him too!”
Emmanuel Andrieu, Classique News

“On the eve of to the premiere of the new production of Rusalka staged by the Le Lab duo – Jean-Philippe Clarac and Olivier Deloeuil – conducted by her husband, Domingo Hindoyan, Sonya Yoncheva gives a recital at the Auditorium, in a program of Italian melodies and arias. Malcolm Martineau accompanies her masterfully on the piano.
Sonya Yoncheva is one of the great voices of the moment, with a touch of glamour in both timbre and presence. The fuchsia satin gown in which she enters the Auditorium stage will not contradict her. However, the recital program, entirely Italian, which she has already performed some thirty times, and which makes a stopover in Bordeaux on the eve of the premiere of Rusalka conducted by her husband Domingo Hindoyan, does not seek the spectacular. A lesser-known facet of the output of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century transalpine composers, the canzone, a variation in Garibaldi’s homeland of the German lied and the French mélodie, brought lyrical emotion into the salons. These are often brief pages, focusing on the color of a feeling – which the Bulgarian soprano contrasts in the four Puccini pieces opening the evening. Martucci’s melody and the two by Tosti, including the famous Ideale, breathe a simplicity here and there discreetly affected by refinement. Verdi’s three numbers reveal a sense of expressive élan: like the preceding scores, they serve as a showcase for the soloist’s meaty, almost luscious timbre… .

After the interval, Sonya Yoncheva returns in a white tunic with a gemmelled neckline in a neo-antique Directoire or First Empire style, for a condensed version of Puccini arias. Of course, Le Villi, an early opera, is hardly ever staged these days. An avatar of Gautier and Adam’s Giselle, the character of Anna has passed into posterity with “Se come voi piccina”, which the greatest sopranos have included in their repertoires. This youthful evanescence is matched by Tosca’s ardent prayer, “Vissi d’arte”, delivered with a dramatic intensity that draws inspiration from, but does not reduce itself to, great models such as Callas. If the diva makes the fragility of Mimi – in La Bohème – bend a little under the fullness of her vocal emission, she proves ideal in “Un bel di vedremo” from Cio-Cio San. Butterfly’s infinite hope palpitates in the fervor of her singing: her familiarity with the role on stage is revealed in this quintessential performance of one of the most moving operas in the history of music.

An interlude for solo piano in the middle of this second part, Albeniz’s Tango in D major, with a pulse calibrated for a solar elegance that must not have been displeasing in the salons, bears witness to the alchemy flowing from the fingers of Malcolm Martineau, a benchmark in vocal recital accompaniment who knows how to condense the orchestral ribbon with exceptional fluidity. The osmosis with Sonya Yoncheva is confirmed in the two encore performances: Lauretta’s lament in Gianni Schichi and Carmen’s Habanera, expected of a voice with a rich medium that confirms the impression that, rather than chiseling the words, she favors a certain immediacy of sensuality and feeling. In the precise acoustics of the Auditorium, this high-fidelity emotion can blossom to perfection. The soloist and the audience won’t deny it.
Gilles Charlassier, Classic Agenda

“A great week at the Opéra de Bordeaux for opera lovers! On Tuesday, diva Sonya Yoncheva enchanted the Auditorium with Puccini’s great arias. And the following day, her husband, conductor Domingo Hindoyan, revealed all the beauty of an opera never before performed in Bordeaux, interpreted by the ONBA with great poetry.”
François Clairerant, Sud Ouest

[Photo: Foto Arnaldo / Teatro Colón 2023]