Magnificent Sonya in the breathtaking La Traviata

Sonya Yoncheva achieved a standing ovation at the Metropolitan Opera with a performance of one of the most beloved operatic heroines – Violetta in La Traviata. This cultural event and the excitement of it was shared by viewers in 70 countries in 2,000 theatres. Starting last year, Bulgaria is part of the Metropolitan’s large virtual family thanks to America for Bulgaria Foundarion and Via Fest.

We used to perceive opera as an elitist art not accessible to all. It is no longer the case. Even with the emergence of the first major opera houses in Europe, the vast space in front of the stage was empty and without seats. In this standing space were admitted the ordinary people having no right to sit in the presence of nobility, who were situated in individual boxes on the balconies. Today, opera houses around the world are full of fans of this magical art, and even more – its beauty tempts and infects more people through the cinema.

America for Bulgaria Foundation is a partner of Metropolitan Opera Live in HD programme and on March 11, broadcasted the live performance of La Traviata. This is not only one of the most beloved operas by Verdi, but the role of Violetta both challenges and reveals in full brilliance the qualities of the soprano prima. And this where Sonya Yoncheva shines. She sings with a powerful tenderness that reaches the innermost recesses of the heart, rules the stage with overall great presence so that you discover her as an exceptional actress, in addition to an amazing vocalist. A true diva.

Photographer:  Ken Howard 

“I feel like Roger Federer,” shares Sonya in an exclusive interview the cinema audience experiences backstage immediately after the first act. In this opera adventure, Sonya partners with tenor Michael Fabiano with conducting by Nicholas Luisotti. Critics define it as even more captivating, even in comparison to the electrifying partnership of the undisputed diva Anna Netrebko and Rolando Vilazon in the same roles. They are the shining stars in the premier of the minimalistic decor, with which in 2005 direcor Willy Decker revolutionized the festival in Salzburg. It becomes a third character and gives a completely contemporary reading of La Traviata. From 2010 the decor lives on the Met stage.

“For me, the set must be a clean basis for strong characters,” explains Willy Decker for his inspiration and concept. La Traviata has loads from everything – a real storm of emotions. As life itself. The story is seemingly trivial. A young man (Alfredo Germont) falls head over heels for the beautiful, liberated, Violetta always in love and committed to life and pleasures in a very modern way, but too scandalous for her time. Between them stands his father (Giorgio Germont) and … her disease.

There is love, there is sin, there is temptation, there is betrayal, there is pain, there is death, there is forgiveness. All of this is summed up and running in a very subtle way through the few highlights of the decor, designed entirely in white, black and red – a huge clock whose hands follow the passage of death. We live that feeling through Violetta that literally tries to stop time; cold walls resembling white stone against which stands out a bright red sofa in sync with the scarlet dress of the main character. Perfection to the last detail.

Another interesting detail for the Bulgarian audience is through the role of the father, Alfredo you can follow the exceptional baritone Thomas Hampson. He sings in over 80 roles in the most prestigious opera stages in the world and has over 170 records, six nominations and a Grammy.  In the singer’s brief interview at the intermission just before going on stage, he specifically acknowledged Sofia and maestro Peter Balev’s invitation to visit the capital in December when we will see him together with the Sofia Philharmonia in Bulgaria Hall. It is another event in partnership with the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Immersed in the magic “opera live”, we find ourselves playing again with the question “Is opera more beautiful than the movies?” But…why should you choose when you have both. For the first time, La Traviata will not be a one-off experience with this live broadcast. There will be five more broadcasts – two in Sofia and one in Ruse during the March Music days at the end of March, one in Plovdiv during May and the Music Days of Balabanova Kashta festival and one in Varna in June during the Varna Summer International Festival.

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