“The Courtesan” – CD of the month by “Oper! Das Magazin”

“After illustrious albums with French repertoire (“Paris, mon amour” 2015), arias by Georg Friedrich Handel (2017), Giuseppe Verdi (2018) and a baroque album (2021), which remains a matter of taste, the soprano, although still a Sony exclusive artist, released her new album on her own label.

It is produced by her production company, which is also responsible for her concerts.

This decision cannot have been due to an unusual repertoire, because under the title Courtesan, roles such as Mimì (Leoncavallo and Puccini), Manon (Massenet and Puccini), Traviata (Verdi) and Dalila have been collocated, popular arias and duets (in Thaïs and La traviata alongside Charles Castronovo). All of them are women who were often strong and very fragile at the same time, at all times defenseless against life and always soon at the mercy of death if they gave up their status in order to live only for love.

The first track already makes clear the dilemma of every courtesan, cocotte, mistress, geisha or simply lover: Thaïs and Nicias assure each other that from the next morning they will only be names for each other. How touching when Stephana sings about the happiness of new love in Giordano’s Siberia; how bitter when Cio-Cio-San longs for her Pinkerton in “Un bel dì vedremo”, knowing inwardly that he will never return. Or when Iris in Mascagni’s opera of the same name dreams from the very beginning of the threat to her doll and thus imagines her own fate, being abducted to a brothel as a Japanese woman and dying in the end, nevertheless reconciled with the world thanks to the rays of the sun (“Ho fatto un triste sogno pauroso”).

Yoncheva sounds no less heartbreaking when, as Manon, she laments that all her wealth cannot give her back the tenderness of love for the poor student Des Grieux, or when she ends up dying of thirst in the desert. Whether Puccini, Leoncavallo or Mascagni – the verismo in the broadest sense suits Sonya Yoncheva’s intense, brightly colored soprano voice, which she uses expressively, in every phrase.

(…) To this end, Marco Armiliato elicits fine facets from the Orchestra dell’Opera Carlo Felice in Genoa. And with “In trutina mentis dubia” from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, there is a bonus track in Latin, which also musically comes from a completely different world and tells of the fact that one has to follow one’s heart, no matter what the consequences are.”

Klaus Kalchschmid, Oper! Das Magazin

Source: https://www.oper-magazin.de/kritiken/cd-des-monats/the-courtesan-sonya-yoncheva/

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