Sonya Yoncheva

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Sonya Yoncheva
Соня Йончева
Yoncheva in 2019
Born (1981-12-25) 25 December 1981 (age 39)
Plovdiv, People's Republic of Bulgaria
Alma materConservatoire de Musique de Genève
OccupationOpera singer (soprano)
Years active2007–present
(m. 2014)
RelativesMarin Yonchev (brother)

Sonya Yoncheva (Bulgarian: Соня Йончева; born 25 December 1981) is a Bulgarian operatic soprano.

Early life[edit]

Yoncheva was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. From the age of 6, she was "working", according to her own words from an interview for Metropolis.[1] She studied piano and voice at the National School for Music and Dance in Plovdiv. During her teenage years, she hosted a Bulgarian television show about music.[2] She won several music competitions in Bulgaria in 2000 and 2001, including a joint win with her brother as "Singers of the Year 2000" in the "Hit-1" competition organised and produced by Bulgarian National Television.

She took advanced studies in classical singing with Danielle Borst at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève and obtained the master's degree in 2009.[3]


Yoncheva was an invited participant in William Christie's "Jardin des Voix" academy for young singers in 2007.[4] She has continued work in the baroque repertoire with Christie, and also with Emmanuelle Haïm.

Yoncheva was the female first-place winner of the 2010 Operalia competition.[5] In May 2011, she portrayed Cleopatra in a co-production of Giulio Cesare by the Atelier lyrique de Tourcoing [fr] and Opéra de Reims [fr],[6] performances of which also took place at the Royal Opera of Versailles.[7] In June she performed in L'elisir d'amore as Adina as part of Festival Nuits Musicales Sainte Victoire in Peynier.[8][9]

Her debut at the Metropolitan Opera was in November 2013 when she stepped in as Gilda in Rigoletto, in advance of her previously scheduled official debut.[10] In 2014 at the Met, she sang her stage role debut as Mimì (La bohème) in November and shared the role of Violetta (La traviata) in December.[11] In 2015 she appeared as Desdemona in the season opening production of Otello the Metropolitan Opera[12] and in September 2016 she made her debut as Norma at the Royal Opera House, where she sang Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann in November of the same year.[13]

In June 2017 she made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala as Mimì in La bohème.[14] She made her role debut in the title role of Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera for their 2017/18 season to great critical acclaim. Yoncheva set a record as first singer to appear in leading roles in three movie-theater broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera in one season (Tosca, Mimi in La bohème and Luisa Miller in the 2017/18 season).[15][16] Other role debuts in the 2017/18 season include Luisa Miller at the Metropolitan Opera and Élisabeth de Valois in Don Carlos at the Paris Opera. For her role debut as Imogene in Bellini's Il pirata at the Teatro alla Scala in June 2018, the first production of the piece after a legendary 1958 staging with Maria Callas as Imogene the press proclaimed that her performance would "surely see Yoncheva enter La Scala's hall of fame alongside Callas".[14][17] In summer 2018 Yoncheva sang the role of Poppea in L'incoronazione di Poppea at the Salzburg Festival.

Yoncheva began the 2018/19 season performing the title role of Médée in a staging at Staatsoper Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Other performances in 2018/19 included Desdemona in Verdi's Otello and the title part of Iolanta at the Metropolitan Opera, Desdemona in a new production for Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall as well as Tosca at Staatsoper Berlin.

In Spring 2019, Sonya Yoncheva announced to be expecting her second child in Fall.[18] Therefore, the soprano does not perform from mid July to November 2019, before returning to the stage for Puccini Gala Concerts at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and in Sofia. In the 2019/20 season, she performed Mimì in La bohème at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the title role of Médée at the Staatsoper Berlin and as Imogene in Il pirata to the Teatro Real in Madrid. Several important role debuts in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 season had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among them her first Manon Lescaut, Leonora in Il trovatore and Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera as well as Fedora at the Teatro alla Scala.[19]

In Spring 2020, Yoncheva returned to the stage after the first European lockdown as the soprano soloist of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Victoria Hallin Geneva, telecast by Arte. She also perticipated in the 2020 edition of Le Concert de Paris in fron of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, performed the title role of La traviata at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and appeared in concert at the Salzburg Festival, at the Arena di Verona, in Lucca and Caserta.

In June 2020, Yoncheva announced the creation of her newborn company SY11 and a gala concert organised by the company for August at the Roman Theatre of Plovdiv.[20]

In summer 2020, Sonya Yoncheva and Rolex announced a concert series in aid of musicians affected by the pandemic and the ongoing cancellations. Yoncheva was the host of the "Perpetual Music" concert at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin in September, featuring 14 singers and instrumentalists.[21] [22]

Engagements until the end of 2020 included solo concerts to open the season of the Würth Philharmoniker and the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, the title role of Tosca at the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Season Inauguration Gala A Riveder le Stelle of the Teatro alla Scala and a Christmas concert hosted by the German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and telecast by ZDF.[23]

Awards and honors[edit]

Yoncheva is a Rolex artist[24] and was named's 2017 Artist of the Year.[25] She is also the winner of the 2019 Readers Award of the International Opera Awards.[26]

She won a Young Artist of the Year award (Nachwuchskünstler/-in des Jahres) in 2015 Echo Klassik.[27] In 2016, she was awarded the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius for her "contribution to the field of art".[28] She was one of the recipients of the 13th annual Opera News Awards.[29] She was presented Award of the Year from the Círculo Críticos de Arte de Chile for her recital at the Teatro del Lago.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Yoncheva married Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan in July 2014[31] and they live in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland. The couple have a son, Mateo, born 6 October 2014.[2] In October 2019, their daughter Sophia was born.[15][32] Her younger brother Marin Yonchev is a former rock singer and is now appearing in operatic concerts alongside Yoncheva.[15][33]


Yoncheva is featured on commercial audio recordings on the Virgin Classics label.[34] In November 2013, she signed a recording contract with Sony Classical[4] and has released several solo CDs including:[35]

On video she appears in DVD releases of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria,[36][37] and of Pergolesi's Il Flaminio. Additionally, she is featured on Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" and Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" on Deutsche Grammophon.[35] She can be seen as Desdemona in the Met Opera's HD streaming video of Otello (2015).[38] In 2016, she substituted for Anna Netrebko in Covent Garden's controversial season opener of Bellini's Norma, issued on DVD by Opus Arte.[39]


  • Sonya Yoncheva: Sempre Libera (2018). directed by Ema Konstantinova and Georgi Toshev. premiered at the 32nd Kinomania Film Festival in Sofia on 26 November 2018.[40]


  1. ^ Martina Müller (2016-01-11). "Die bulgarische Sopranistin Sonya Yoncheva". Metropolis (in German). Retrieved 2016-08-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Michael Cooper (2014-11-27). "A Last-Minute Sensation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Sonya Yoncheva". Schmopera. Retrieved 2019-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Martin Cullingford (2013-11-15). "Soprano Sonya Yoncheva signs to Sony Classical". Gramophone. Retrieved 2014-12-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Bulgarian soprano and Romanian tenor triumph in Operalia". Gramophone. 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2014-12-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Jules César en Egypte" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Langlois, Frank (2011-05-22). "Christophe Dumaux, nouveau Jules César". ResMusica (Review).
  8. ^ "Les Nuits Musicales Sainte Victoire – 6ème édition 2011". (in French). 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2019-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Borodine, Clémence (2011-06-26). "" Elixir d'amour " enchanteur des spectateurs". RMTnews International (in French). Retrieved 2019-09-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (2013-12-07). "Musical Chairs at the Met". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Sonya Yoncheva, soprano". Operabase. Retrieved 11 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ F. Paul Driscoll (December 2015). "Otello – 21 September 2015 review". Opera News. Retrieved 16 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Valencia, Mark (2016-11-08). "Review: Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Royal Opera House)".
  14. ^ a b Mattioli, Alberto (2017-06-14). "Cantare Bohème alla Scala non è roba vecchia, è storia". La Stampa. Retrieved 2018-02-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ a b c "Sonya Yoncheva / Calendar". Retrieved 11 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Sonya Yoncheva to Replace Kristine Opolais in Premiere Performances of Metropolitan Opera's New Tosca". Opera News. 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  17. ^ Imam, James (2018-07-02). "Sonya Yoncheva triumphs in Il pirata at La Scala". Bachtrack.
  18. ^ "Sonya Yoncheva Cancels Forthcoming Stage Performances Due to Second Pregnancy". Retrieved 11 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Website Sonya Yoncheva, retrieved 2021-02-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ OperaWire article, retrieved 2021-02-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ Website Rolex, retrieved 2021-02-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ EuronNews clip and interview, retrieved 2021-02-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ Website Sonya Yoncheva, retrieved 2021-02-08 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. ^ "Rolex and Sonya Yoncheva". Rolex. Retrieved 5 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ [@medicitv] (11 April 2017). "One week to go before the Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva's first concert as artist of the year!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  26. ^ International Opera Awards 2019 - The Winners!, retrieved 2019-08-03 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. ^ BVMI; KIZ. "ECHO Klassik 2015: Die Preisträger stehen fest". Neue Musikzeitung (in German).
  28. ^ "Министър Вежди Рашидов поздрави новите носители на висши държавни отличия" [Minister Vezhdi Rashidov welcomes the new holders of high state awards] (Press release) (in Bulgarian). Minister of Culture (Bulgaria). 2016-05-25.
  29. ^ "2018 OPERA NEWS Awards to Honor William Christie, Fiorenza Cossotto, Vittorio Grigolo, Hei-Kyung Hong and Sonya Yoncheva". Opera News. 2017-11-01.
  30. ^ "Círculo Críticos de Arte - Premiación de lo mejor de 2018". Círculo Críticos de Arte. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  31. ^ "Already ten days since we have celebrated our marriage…". 2014-08-04.
  32. ^ "Carnet rose : Sonya Yoncheva de nouveau Maman". Forumopéra. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  33. ^ "Sonya Yoncheva Verdi Concert Berlin". Eventim. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  34. ^ Nicholas Kenyon (2012-04-21). "Rameau, Lully, Purcell, Handel: Une fête Baroque! – review". The Observer. Retrieved 2014-12-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  35. ^ a b "Sonya Yoncheva - Recordings". Retrieved 11 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  36. ^ Irurzun, José M (21 April 2009). "Review of DVD of Monteverdi, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria". Seen and Heard International.
  37. ^ Pryer, Anthony (20 January 2012). "Review of DVD of Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria". BBC Music Magazine.
  38. ^ Otello (2015) at Met Opera on Demand.
  39. ^ Fisher, Neil. "Bellini Norma (Pappano)". Gramophone. MA Music, Leisure and Travel. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  40. ^ Salazar, Francisco (2018-11-17). "Sonya Yoncheva's Documentary To Premiere In Bulgaria". Opera Wire.

External links[edit]