Cher Public

Mai Tosca alla scena

Sonya Yoncheva will make her role debut in the Met’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca next season replacing Kristine Opolais, who has withdrawn for personal reasons. The Met looks forward to welcoming Ms. Opolais back in future seasons. The company is grateful to the Vienna State Opera for releasing Ms. Yoncheva from a previous commitment.”

So says the Met press department this unseasonably cool June morning, confirming suspicions La Cieca expressed four months ago.

  • Bill

    Yoncheva was supposed to sing 3 Marguerites in
    Faust in Vienna January 25,28 and February 2, 2018
    She may have had to break other engagements earlier
    in January or late December to undertake this new
    production of Tosca at the Met -- Yoncheva’s assumption of the role at the Met should generate some welcome excitement as she certainly has generally garnered kudos and raves recently in most of the operatic centers in various roles.

    • Bill

      At the Vienna Opera Anita Hartig has now been listed to replace Yoncheva as Marguerite in Faust and Olga Bezsmertna (a wonderful soprano) to replace Hartig who was originally scheduled to sing Michaela in Vienna at that time. Everything moves very fast apparently or these changes were all arranged a while ago but not announced.

      • Yige Li

        It’s funny that on one hand the roster can be rotated so quickly, on the other hand the 5-year-booking system is still having its last breath.

        • Bill

          Yige Li -- At the Vienna Opera and most
          opera houses in Germany and Central Europe they have ensemble members of the opera company who cover most of the roles and pretty much stay put for much of the entire season. They are essentially performers who also cover other roles. For example just today Rolando Villazon cancelled his upcoming 3 Nemorinos in Vienna (not unexpectedly) and they immediately announced that Xiahun Jinxu (a member of the ensemble who has sung some previously scheduled Nemorinos) would be replacing Villazon. In the case of the Met Toscas where now Opolais is not singing the new production for whatever reason , a higher profile soprano would be required for the Gala event and hence some juggling of schedules was necessitated to obtain Yonsheva who obviously was not the original cover employed by the Met.

          • Rick

            Does anybody still think that Mr Villazon will sing his scheduled Fausts in Vienna in the upcoming season? His Lenskis might still happen (I doubt it but who knows) -- but if he cannot sing Nemorino, then clearly Faust is also out of the question.

            • Porgy Amor

              He also has some concert Papagenos scheduled next summer in Baden-Baden, conducted by Nézet-Séguin. I don’t know if that portends a switch to baritone roles or is just an aberration.

              It does not seem so long ago, but it has been a decade this month since RV’s difficult Barcelona Manons with Dessay. Per a MusicWeb review of the time, “Rolando Villazón sang Chevalier Des Grieux and I am sorry to say that I have never heard him sing quite so badly in a theater so I hope this was just an off night.” I remember the alarm at an unedited video of one of his arias that was going around, back when YouTube was still a relatively new phenomenon. He took his first lengthy vocal rest not long afterward.

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              and Villazon is also on the docket to direct Les contes d’Hoffmann in Baden-Baden

            • Antikitschychick

              What happened to him is truly sad considering the quality of his instrument and how earnest and buoyant he is as a performer, not to mention the success he garnered. I’m glad he hasn’t disappeared though and is still able to perform in lighter rep and also direct. But he is definitely an example of what can happen to a singer when they push too hard and don’t continue to work on and develop their technique.

            • Based on his recent Monterverdi in Paris it sounds unlikely. His voice seems to have altered completely. In March I wrote:

              Certainly, you have to forget the Villazón of the past (and in this performance, bald and bearded, you don’t recognise him). This is a different voice altogether, uneven in emission, sometimes hoarse, sometimes fleshless, sometimes hollow, faltering, effortful and heavy going… but still expressive and, here, even if there’s an element in it of making a virtue of necessity, dramatically plausible. An ageing hero who’s been through the wars returns wearily home to find himself surrounded by energetic gods and healthy young suitors. The contrast works, vocally and dramatically.

    • Some good new out of Wiener Staatsoper: on Monday, Simon Keenlyside (who sings his first Golaud tomorrow night in the premiere of a new production) will be awarded the title of Kammersänger; later in the week, KS Waltraud Meier will be given the rarely-awarded title of Ehrenmitglieder after a performance as Klytämnestra.

  • CwbyLA

    Awesome news!

  • Antikitschychick

    Well no surprise here. It looks like the Met is banking on Yoncheva to be the successor to AN’s throne. I wish her luck. She is certainly deserving of these opportunities and I admire her ambition. Plus I do think she has all the right qualities to be a great Tosca, though I wonder if maybe a few years down the line would have been better. As I’ve said previously, she ain’t messin around and we discussed the possibility of her singing Tosca a couple years ago. I also recall suggesting she’d be good as Amelia in Forza and ppl were like no way! Well it seems she is embracing the spinto repertoire much earlier than anticipated as she will also be singing Elizabeth in Don Carlo in Paris in the fall. Idk that she’d be interested in Amelia but perhaps a new production would entice her to do it in a couple years. It seems that lyric is the new spinto these days and spinto is the new dramatic soprano. Of course Tosca is a role that nearly all sopranos wish to sing regardless of vocal fach, but it’s certainly not a light or lyric role.

    I do feel kind of bad for Opolais though. I do hope they didn’t just give her the boot, and it’ll be interesting to see if Nelsons will still conduct. Perhaps Tosca isn’t the ideal role for her but this was a very high profile engagement, so I can’t imagine she really pulled out voluntarily. I could be wrong though. In any case, I will definitely try to catch Yoncheva in the role if I’m still in the area, otherwise I will watch the HD.

    • Luvtennis

      I think you mean Amelia in Ballo??? Or perhaps Leonora in Forza? ???? I really enjoyed the excerpts of Yoncheva’s Norma that I saw on YouTube, not sure the Verdi spinto roles would suit her. We will see -- if in fact she decides to go in that direction.

      • Antikitschychick

        Yes sorry for the mix-up. I fixed it now. I meant the Forza Leonora lol. It’s hard to keep things straight will all this bar prep I have to do.

        • Luvtennis

          Which bar? And it isn’t just the weight of sound required by those roles -- it’s also the tessitura and the exposed nature of the big moments and extreme demands placed on the singer’s legato. Also, you can’t really rely transpositions (anymore) in those roles.

          But she seems a very canny singer so we will see…. I hope she does well. She is a very valuable artist.

          • Antikitschychick

            I’m taking the UBE which is valid in a number of states now. Yeah I agree with everything else you say. It’s a combination of things.

          • Armerjacquino

            I think AKC’s suggestion a few years ago was Amelia in BALLO- but as you say both roles make a lot more demands on the singer than the roles Yoncheva has sung to date. To make an obvious comparison- Gheorghiu has sung Tosca successfully all over the world, but she’d come to grief pretty quickly in FORZA or BALLO, and so I think would Yoncheva.

            She’s clearly heading away from the Mimis and Marguerites she started with, but I can’t see her Verdi going far beyond TROV or BOCCANEGRA in terms of vocal challenge.

            • southerndoc1

              She does her first Elisabetta in Don Carlos in Paris two months before Tosca; follows up her role debut in Luisa Miller with her first Piratas at La Scala. Lots of new roles in prominent venues.

            • Antikitschychick

              And Salome!

            • Antikitschychick

              Lol it could be. Perhaps I suggested both though? I think my general attitude back then was “YAS! She should sing all of the things!” and that probably still holds true in her case. Plus, while I respect a singer’s wish to play it safe for the sake of longevity, I do prefer it when they go for the glory and take risks.

      • Antikitschychick

        Re: the roles, I think it ultimately depends on whether she is interested in the role or not. It seems that she is not too concerned with the vocal weight associated with the role. I mean that’s not to suggest she’s going to sing Brunhilde or Turandot any time soon, but the heavier Italian spinto roles are certainly in play and as you pointed out she already sang Norma. That definitely did surprise me and I enjoyed it as well although I think she will be better once she decides to come back to it.

    • fletcher

      “It seems that lyric is the new spinto these days and spinto is the new dramatic soprano.”

      What do you mean by that?

      • Antikitschychick

        That sopranos in the lyric fach seem to be singing heavier roles these days, though perhaps this isn’t such a new trend. At least certain sopranos who in my mind are lyric sopranos like Yoncheva, Netrebko, Agresta, Opolais, Damrau and even some older sopranos like Devia are singing heavier roles than we would expect based on their voice type, although this is partly due to the development of their voices. Ultimately this just proves that vocal categorizations don’t actually matter all that much. It’s really about the individual singer and what they can do.

        • La Cieca

          I believe the above comment was first published in 1830.

          • Antikitschychick

            a revolutionary year in many countries! We could certainly use one now.

            • Marcello

              According to her Website, Opolais has nothing planned between September 7, 2017 and March 2018. Then there is Lohengrin in June in London (with Nelsons conducting). Could she be pregnant?
              Right now, she is doing Rusalka in Munich (the Kusej production with Nelsons conducting), of which I read some very favorable reviews.
              This is all in addition to the fact that Tosca is too heavy for her.

            • Antikitschychick

              That is an unusual gap. If she is indeed pregnant that would certainly be felicitous news and would explain her withdrawing for personal reasons. I don’t really want to speculate as to what else might be the reason for that gap, and while I do hope that is the reason I doubt it since she would have announced it already I think. Something like that would certainly make this whole ordeal more palatable for me…even if I am a fan of Yoncheva. But I mean, this is a competitive business like any other so I get it. In any event I wish her the best.

            • Camille

              I think you may have something in this theory--it’s entirely plausible. Is the husband cancelling as well? If he isn’t, it could help to support your supposition.

              Stay tuned and we’ll all find out!

          • Antikitschychick

            It appears we are wrong. The year is 1958 and our President is preparing to become Premier of the Soviet Union.

        • Camille

          Chica,

          Read “The Last Prima Donnas” and you’ll hear Marcella Pobbe bitchin’ ‘ bout all that back in c. 1960.

          Plus ça change,………and all that jazz.

          • Antikitschychick

            lol ok I’ll add it to the list. I, unlike Marcella Pobbe though was not bitching or lamenting. I think these shifts, or theoretical shifts if you’d like, are all interesting because they really say more about the changes in audience tastes and expectations, and this is if course tied to the fact that opera houses, esp in America have gotten bigger and orchestras play louder with higher pitch etc. So I realize I’m not saying anything new, but it’s interesting to note.

  • southerndoc1

    Think of all the money they’ll save on neck wraps.

    • La Cieca

      Marry me.

  • chicagoing

    Jennifer Rowley, last month’s breakthrough Roxane, also appears on the schedule to sing a single Tosca performance in January.

    • Camille

      Thanks for letting us (me) know. I look forward to hearing her again even if her voice seems light for that role, at least to me.

      From being a Musetta of Reknown to Becoming Tosca is quite a wide tour jetée but since that’s a definition of Tosca’s job description, let’s bring it on.

  • southerndoc1

    New Queen of the Met: Yoncheva gets three HDs.

  • Antikitschychick

    The only real downside in this whole thing for me is, in the process of stepping into these high profile gigs, she (Yes Eva; the new ‘yes’ girl) keeps renouncing roles which imho would be a great fit for her. One was Tatiana in Eugene Onegin earlier this season, a role I think she would have been amazing in, and the countess in Nozze is another. But she obvs can’t sing everything all at once. I do think she should still sing those roles though. I hope she doesn’t drop Alcina. (Erm, I’m not one for superstitions but my wishes and her choices are not really seeing eye to eye so I probably shouldn’t even say anything about that lol).

  • Laura

    Question: La Cieca’s blind item was four months ago. Why only announced now? Would seem to be humiliating for Opolais to do this to her now. For the record: I live near Tanglewood so have heard her a few times there with Nelsons (and once in Verdi Requiem the year he hurt himself in Bayreuth and couldn’t appear at Tanglewood. Have to say not a glorious voice (very apparent in the Requiem especially — totally beyond her). Good actress, very attractive. Voice: meh. Maybe this will be Yoncheva’s fate in a couple of years — built up as the next big thing, then replaced by newer singer version. Hope not. Has a better voice than Opolais (at least for now).

  • Laura

    Oops. That wasn’t the blind item, just the announcement about the upcoming season. Sorry.