Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva with brilliant debut in Budapest

Dispatch by journalist Ivaylo Spasov

Photo: sonyayoncheva.com

It was a veritable feast in every sense of the word – for myself because the concert took place on the eve of the national day of Bulgaria, but it was obviously no less a feast for the audience in Budapest.

The gala concert on 2 March with the participation of Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva was her debut in Budapest, though she has sung in Hungary before – in 2016 at the Bartok Plus Opera Festival in Miskolc.

The atmosphere was truly elated. In recent years, this traditional spring gala concert has featured opera singers of the caliber of Placido Domingo. Sonya Yoncheva was given a royal welcome – by the musicians and by the audience. I was fortunate enough to have a front-row seat and to be able to feel the excitement of the singer, and of the audience at close range. 

It was a beautiful night, filled with the sound of Italian opera. Sonya Yoncheva had dedicated her performance to Puccini’s music to celebrate the 160th anniversary since the birth of the composer. At the spring gala concert in Budapest she sang Manon Lescaut, Madame Butterfly, La bohème and duet by Mimi and Rodolfo with one of Hungary’s most celebrated tenors. It was a spectacular rendition, against the background of theatrical scenery depicting Paris by night. The final highlight, which came after stormy applause was the aria O mio babbino caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi. A truly moving moment, because as the audience was applauding, Sonya Yoncheva signaled to the conductor, the orchestra started playing, and she started singing with incredible lack of effort, bringing a perfect harmony of voice, of sensibility and creation. But of course, we all know that such effortlessness, such perfection can only be attained by a lot of grueling work.

Sonya Yoncheva looked very beautiful. She has incredible charisma, presence and voice, and she held the audience in the palm of her hand. A true diva!

Next to me was an elderly gentleman from Belgrade who told me that his father had been an opera singer and that he himself had been an opera lover for many years.

“I have not heard a soprano like Sonya Yoncheva for decades, a voice so rich and intense,” he told me, and added that his favourite singer was Anna Tomowa-Sintow. Words that go to show that in our part of Europe, in Europe as a whole and in the world, Bulgarian opera singers are very much held in high regard. Audiences appreciate their performance and travel especially for their concerts, just as I did from Sofia for the concert by Sonya Yoncheva. But there were so many other people too who had come from different corners of Europe to witness her debut in Budapest.

The gala concert will soon be aired by Hungarian National TV.

Edited by Albena Bezovska

English version: Milena Daynova

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