Fascinating but Frustrating: Our Critics Discuss Sonya Yoncheva in Recital (for Parterre Box)

David Fox: Another day, another diva. Cameron, I’m sure you remember that our last listening party—exactly a week ago—featured Angela Gheorghiu, brought to us in the comfort of our living rooms through the agency of the Metropolitan Orchestra. We greatly enjoyed her singing, but were even more enthralled by her signature admixture of grandeur and coquettishness. Now, through the auspices of the Metropolitan Opera, we have Sonya Yoncheva—and if anything, the diva-dom has been kicked up a notch! I’m not intending to diminish in any sense her sincerity, vocal allure, and distinctive musicality, all of which was at least intermittently on display, and which we’ll discuss. But honestly, if I were looking for a way to illustrate the wonderfully capricious world of opera divas, I could hardly do better than the first few minutes here. Can you think of a weirder misfit of aria—Aida’s “Ritorna vincitor!”—and circumstances than these?: A jewel-box German Baroque library, all ornamental white-and-gold squiggles… an accompanying piano (this really needs the bombast of an orchestra)… and a sweeping entrance by a bejeweled and très formidable soprano, wearing acres of red voile and a bow, and looking like a very expensive Christmas gift from La Perla. For me, this was worth the price of admission—and we hadn’t heard a note from her yet!

Cameron Kelsall: The surrounding environs have often stolen the show in these transmitted recitals, and this was no exception: the Schussenried Cloister provided an ideal backdrop for Yoncheva’s stately and varied program. And she did make her entrance as if she were gliding off the pages of a glossy Rolex advertisement. But she is also a thoughtful artist, as her choices showed—Purcell and Handel selections took their place next to Puccini and Verdi, and the selections encompassed four languages. Often, though, I came away admiring the innate theatricality of Yoncheva’s self-presentation, and her willingness to really go there, more than the singing itself…

Click here to read the complete post at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, Music, PARTERRE BOX

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