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Cast confirmation: Sonya Yoncheva to sing in Norma

Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva is to replace Anna Netrebko in Bellini's masterpiece.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

3 May 2016 at 3.02pm | 42 Comments

Following the announcement last week that Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from Norma, the role will now be sung by Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva.

Director of Opera Kasper Holten expressed his gratitude to the Metropolitan Opera, New York: ‘A huge thank you to the Met for releasing the brilliant soprano Sonya Yoncheva from her scheduled performances there as Mimì in La bohème. They have announced today that Ailyn Pérez will sing Mimì for them in the autumn. We are delighted and appreciative that Sonya will be able to join our excellent cast and creative team for The Royal Opera’s new production of Norma. She has had much success at the Royal Opera House in recent Seasons and we look forward to welcoming her back in the autumn for Norma and as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.’

Sonya Yoncheva made her Royal Opera debut in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Winners’ concert in July 2012. She has subsequently sung Musetta in La bohème, Marguerite in Faust, Violetta Valéry in La traviata and Micaëla in Carmen for the Company. Her other recent engagements include Desdemona in Otello for the Metropolitan Opera, New York; the title role in Iolanta for Opéra National de Paris, and Mimì in La bohème and Violetta Valéry in La traviata for Berlin State Opera.

The rest of the cast remains unchanged.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

3 May 2016 at 3.02pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Àlex Ollé, cast change, Norma, Production, Sonya Yoncheva

This article has 42 comments

  1. John responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:07pm Reply

    Many congratulations to the Royal Opera for this fantastic replacement!

  2. francois responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:32pm Reply

    Congratulations to the ROH. It is a very good choice and it maintains all the excitement around this new production!! Bravo to the whole team who managed to find such a high-level replacement in such a short time.

  3. Denis Ribeiro responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:35pm Reply

    Good choice. I greatly admired her truly excellent Desdemona to Antonenko's Otello recently at the MET. Not sure she's exactly Norma material, but it will be fascinating to find out!

    • helene adam responded on 3 May 2016 at 4:06pm

      I'm not sure either but I think Sonya Yoncheva is very interesting performer for all the new roles...

    • Ernesto Medina responded on 24 May 2016 at 12:35am

      Exactly, not sure either about it but her Desdemona at the Met last Autumn was outstanding. Would be interesting to hear her in Norma. Made me think of Scotto who was a superb Mimi, a remarkable Desdemona and a great Norma.

  4. Martin Dodsworth responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:51pm Reply

    Pleased to see you have already reduced the ticket prices for Norma, good to see the ROH having been so proactive over this whole issue of the cast change forced upon them.

  5. Stephen Cutler responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:54pm Reply

    One of those occasions where the replacement is preferable to the original. Now, if ROH want to make good the ticket sales of those who would have come just for Netrebko, you could bring in the Wagnerites by including Wagner's extra aria for Oroveso.

  6. Patience Humphries responded on 3 May 2016 at 3:57pm Reply

    An excellent choice. Well done ROH!

  7. helene adam responded on 3 May 2016 at 4:03pm Reply

    good idea and good luck for Sonya Yoncheva and all others ; amazing replacement, bravo...

  8. kirstie phipps responded on 3 May 2016 at 4:07pm Reply

    Loved Sonya Yoncheva's Violetta last summer, hugely looking forward to seeing her in Norma. Thank you for such a speedy and wonderful casting change. And thanks also to the Met!

  9. Brendan Quinn responded on 3 May 2016 at 4:10pm Reply

    Great replacement, hopefully the production will match the cast and not be like the recent Lucia fiasco.

  10. Michael responded on 3 May 2016 at 5:02pm Reply

    This is a big surprise. I don't think anybody was expecting Sonya Yoncheva.
    Congratulations to maestro Pappano and
    Mr. Holten.
    She was a wonderful Marguerite a few years back and was absolutely amazing as Desdemona last fall at the MET.
    But Norma is huge.
    You are a gutsy soprano Sonya Yoncheva.
    Best of luck, .

    • Daniele responded on 4 May 2016 at 1:34pm

      I totally agree with you, Michael. And I would like to add that I was really impressed and moved by your comment regarding Anna Netrebko's withdrawal. You wrote exactly the things I think and feel.
      Hoping to read again from you very soon,

  11. John responded on 3 May 2016 at 5:14pm Reply

    Well done! Too excited about the replacement now and Norma looks even more appealing now than ever!
    Sonya Yoncheva did it again and stepped in for Netrebko on a short notice!

    Good luck

  12. Roy responded on 3 May 2016 at 5:24pm Reply

    Happy with the singer, but have you seen the pricing - up to £225 ! Seriously ? No way that would have been the pricing if this was the casting from the outset. Clearly there is a desire to make out the Anna premium wasn't too great - £170 to £190 would surely have been the realistic top price for a new production without one of the really really top drawing names ?

  13. Jennifer Coetzee responded on 3 May 2016 at 5:27pm Reply

    Surely this is a mistake? Not confusing with Sondra Radvanovsky?!

  14. Steve responded on 3 May 2016 at 6:47pm Reply

    Kudos to the Metropolitan Opera for graciously releasing Sonya Yoncheva to the royal Opera.
    What class!

  15. Anula Nikapota responded on 3 May 2016 at 7:08pm Reply

    Very pleased at the quality of the replacement. Congratulations ROH.
    Second time Netrebko has disappointed us.
    Does ROH go on asking her?

  16. Edwin responded on 3 May 2016 at 7:29pm Reply

    This is absolutely brilliant news. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who managed to make this happen

  17. stephen ratcliffe responded on 3 May 2016 at 8:01pm Reply

    Wow, surprising and exciting. Looking forward to it, though I did not have Yoncheva down as a bel canto specialist. So its a gamble. Lets hope it works

  18. Steve responded on 3 May 2016 at 8:05pm Reply

    Sorry - 'Royal' with the capital R. Oops.

  19. Margherite responded on 3 May 2016 at 8:21pm Reply

    Congratulations to the ROH Mr Holten and Mtro Pappano, Ms Yoncheva is definitely a great choice and tells a lot about Mr Pappano's idea of the work, a beautiful rich voice but not heavy, with dark colors, coloratura, legato presence and the biggest charisma in the opera world at the moment.

  20. paul smith responded on 3 May 2016 at 8:22pm Reply

    Well done ROH. Sonya is an excellent catch and thankyou Met. I am once again excited and very much look forward to Norma.

  21. Stephen Ratcliffe responded on 3 May 2016 at 10:21pm Reply

    There must be egg on faces at Opera magazine. Their June issue has just popped up on my iPad telling me Tamara Wilson is the replacement. So what's the story there? Is she the backstop?

  22. Roger Taylor responded on 3 May 2016 at 11:56pm Reply

    Sonya Yoncheva was excellent when she substituted for Anna Netrebko in Faust and continues to improve. I'm sure she will do well, and thanks to the Met!

  23. John responded on 4 May 2016 at 10:35am Reply

    Now that the Royal Opera has found a replacement for Norma, could they please offer us a little information about their further plans with Netrebko? Last time she cancelled the opera house at least told us that she would be returning in 2015. When is Netrebko now expected to return, and what will she be singing?

    • Michael responded on 6 May 2016 at 2:23am

      Hi John,

      In the writen statement sent by Mr.Holten in wich he was advising us there were already plans to bring Mrs.Netrebko back in one of the major role she had just tryumphed recently .
      I think it could be "Giovanna d'Arco" .
      But i could be wrong.
      But I agree, it would be nice for her London fan to get a preview of roles to come for Anna
      again at the ROH.

      I miss her and I am looking forward to hearing soon again at the ROH.
      We are missing the Best years of her career.

      Just incredible that we are getting a New Trovatore and à revival in 8 months none of them with the"Leonora" of the moment.

    • John responded on 6 May 2016 at 10:31am

      Thanks for your comment, Michael. Yes I absolutely agree that we are missing Netrebko in her prime. The most important soprano in the world at the moment but she does not really sing in London. And I completely agree about Trovatore! Amazing that we get three different Leonora's over 12 months but not the one that everyone wants to hear!

  24. Jeffrey responded on 4 May 2016 at 11:53am Reply

    Congratulations to the Royal Opera for securing Sonya Yoncheva I've seen her in La Traviata and Faust and really excited about her singing Norma. My only concern, and we must all have them, is that as a young soprano is not the role a bit taxing for her, I think someone said that it was easier to sing Brunhilde than Norma. Otherwise will definitely booking to see it this autumn.

  25. Gus Brown responded on 4 May 2016 at 1:08pm Reply

    Maria Agresta would have been a better choice for NORMA. She recently sang the role in Paris to great acclaim.

  26. Gianluca responded on 4 May 2016 at 3:56pm Reply

    Sorry but Yoncheva is a liric soprano for Boheme, Faust not for Norma

  27. Michael responded on 5 May 2016 at 12:05am Reply

    To Danièle,

    Thanks for posting that nice comment.

  28. Michael responded on 5 May 2016 at 12:08am Reply

    Too bad the ROH could not get Netrebko for a few Trovatore.
    Saw her in Paris in february and she was absolutely stunning.

  29. Frank Wernie responded on 6 May 2016 at 10:20am Reply

    Many people are excited about Yoncheva doing Norma.
    But I disagree....Norma is not a lyrical part like Mimi or Violetta etc.! It is a dramatic coloratura role. Famous singers such as Radvanovsky or Devia spent many years of hard work doing similar bel canto roles before even considering singing Norma !
    So it is in my opinion even a little bit disrespectful to the opera "Norma" itself to cast this young adventurous singer.
    Yoncheva may have all the notes, but, would she have the voice to sing Turandot or the Donizetti-Tudor-Queens?!
    Maybe she will withdraw from Norma too, after she studies the score a little bit
    more !
    Sondra Radvanovsky, Mariella Devia, or Angela Meade.would have been more appropriate choices.....they are all available this fall and ROH could have done multiple casting among them as Madrid Opera does in its fall season!
    And I wonder, if audiences and critics will be as strict with Yoncheva's interpretation as they would have been with Netrebko's...a major reason in my opinion,
    why Netrebko was responsible enough to withdraw !

  30. I agree that Mrs Yoncheva is more lyric soprano, not for Norma dramatic dark soprano !! there are people outside studying opera having beautiful voices and they can sing in big opera houses. We need to give chances for new singers, new voices not just sticking to some singers like Netrebko and Yoncheva and others... because I see singers cannot be famous without paying money or having connections in the world of the opera. Sorry about the this but it is the truth.

  31. Paolo responded on 7 May 2016 at 2:13am Reply

    Funny how people say Norma is a dramatic role and then immediately after mention Devia who has a very small voice. Would she even be heard over the orchestra if she sang Mimi?
    Norma is a bel canto role with not a particularly thick orchestration. There are some dramatic ensembles but it's not a Turandot. The difficult parts are the poignant lyrical moments and also controlling oneself emotionally. A smart singer should be able to negotiate it well enough.
    I'm sure Yoncheva will be coached by Pappano and the result will be great.

  32. Rita Snivel responded on 3 July 2016 at 11:14pm Reply

    I wonder whether this great woman must have experienced too much stress in her life. She looks likes 47 rather than in her 30s.

  33. I saw the dress rehearsal and all those that have worried (mainly for good reasons) will eat their words - as did I! This will be a historic event! Firstly the production is a breathtaking, heartbreaking and appalling reminder of the world we are living in - so potent with its images of religious hypocrisy. Secondly - she is absolutely stunning. Not the biggest voiced Norma, but every single sound she makes is completely appropriate, never over-parted, and unlike many Norma attempts, you hear every single note written! She has such an incredible presence and dignity and somehow makes every element of the plot speak to you in the most relevant way. Leave your preconceptions at the door - I've not seen anything like this for years!! If you can't see book for the cinema - and no, I don't work for the ROH!

  34. Paolo is totally right - surely everyone should trust Pappano's judgement! Her baroque experience hugely benefits her performance in this role and I'm a big sucker for a big voice! And Rita Snivel - who are you looking at? She is stunning and looks like a model in what she wears in Act Two, which I won't reveal because I don't want to spoil it for anyone!

  35. Natalie responded on 13 September 2016 at 11:59am Reply

    A superb performance last night, Sonya Yoncheva was spelling binding despite being dressed as a Catholic priest! Sadly let down by the costume designer, the production exposed the hyprocracy of the Catholic Church, was this what the composer intended?

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