Reading Time: 7 minutes

When you are a woman with the privilege to live under the skin of many other extraordinary women, you must share that experience in a book. With Fifteen Mirrors, Sonya Yoncheva delivers a personal narration about herself and her roles. It is an actual window to her inner world. Fifteen portraits for her first 15 years on stage. When Sonya Yoncheva looks at herself in the mirror, she sees all these women simultaneously. Probably because, in the end, all these characters also have something of Sonya Yoncheva.

Fifteen Mirrors for Fifteen Years of Career

Sonya Yoncheva, a vivacious and prodigious talent from Bulgaria, has charmed audiences worldwide with her dynamic soprano. Born into a musical family, Yoncheva’s passion for singing was ignited early. She graduated from the Pancho Vladigerov music school and later honed her craft at the Conservatoire de Genève.

Emerging onto the international scene as a winner of the illustrious Operalia competition in 2010, Yoncheva has since graced the world’s most prestigious stages. From the Met in New York to London’s Royal Opera House and La Scala in Milan, her captivating performances and rich, emotive voice have earned her a place among today’s leading sopranos.

Photo Credits:

Yoncheva’s repertoire is extensive and diverse, encompassing baroque masterpieces to romantic opera. Her breathtaking renditions of roles like Verdi’s Desdemona, Puccini’s Mimì, and Bellini’s Norma testify to her exceptional dramatic interpretation and vocal versatility.

Her numerous accolades include the Opera Award for Best Female Singer in 2020, confirming her ascendancy in the classical music realm. With a notable discography and her pioneering performances broadcast globally, Sonya Yoncheva continues to inspire audiences and uphold the traditions of operatic excellence.

Not just a remarkable artist, Yoncheva is also a dedicated humanitarian, using her platform to bring attention to societal issues. A true beacon of virtuosity and grace, Sonya Yoncheva’s contribution to opera is nothing short of monumental.

Her story serves as an ode to perseverance, passion, and the power of music, inspiring the next generation of aspiring sopranos. Yoncheva’s star continues to rise, and the world eagerly awaits her next mesmerizing performance.

Fifteen Mirrors, Powerful Roles for a powerful woman


“Fifteen Mirrors” is a deluxe edition of Sonya Yoncheva’s first book, in which she has chosen to present fifteen iconic opera heroines. Most are roles from her repertoire, extraordinary women incarnated by her on stage; others are characters inhabiting her dreams. For each of these 15 characters, readers will find five photographs and text with Sonya Yoncheva’s thoughts and insights.

“This book will tell you more about my inner world than any autobiography”

Sonya Yoncheva

Sonya Yoncheva’s vibrant character portrayals stem from a profound passion for understanding her roles. As a seasoned music critic, witnessing her meticulous preparation is compelling. Delving beyond mere notes and lyrics, Yoncheva delves into her characters’ historical, psychological, and sociocultural layers. She immerses herself in the character’s world, embracing their emotions and motivations. This intricate process fuels her captivating performances. Her embodiment of characters is not a mere act but a sincere, lived experience. Yoncheva’s dedication to such comprehensive character study is a testament to her passion, reaffirming her standing as a paragon in the opera world. This book was written in collaboration with Alain Duault. He is a French writer, poet, and Radio and TV presenter. Over the years, he specialized in classical music and Opera. He was the perfect “partner-in-crime” to accomplish this perfect narration with Sonya Yoncheva.


Here are the 15 characters that Sonya Yoncheva describes in her book:

  • Violetta
  • Poppea
  • Dido
  • Medea
  • Tosca
  • Cleopatra
  • Norma
  • Desdemona
  • Manon Lescaut
  • Mimi
  • Cio-Cio-San
  • Aida
  • Lucia di Lammermoor
  • Venus, Elisabeth
  • Elisabeth de Valois

In Fifteen Mirrors, there is already the mention of Sonya Yoncheva’s debut role as Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly. The soprano added this fantastic character to her CV at the Vienna Opera House this month. Barely three years after its premiere, Anthony Minghella’s enchanting production of Madama Butterfly was finally revived at the Staatsoper, ending with cheering choirs and flying flower bouquets for Sonya Yoncheva. The soprano debuted as Cio-Cio-San and has everything the role demands: lightness, Strength, power and tenderness. Sonya Yoncheva was at her best in the dramatic scenes of the second and third acts. How she conveyed the emotional world of the Cio-Cio-San between determination and despair, hope and resignation, was a revelation. Her “un bel di vedremo” speech was heartbreaking, and the final “Tu, tu piccolo iddio” was outstanding. A story of perfection, fetishism and ultimate self-sacrifice.


“She is an object of adoration, mastering the spell of attraction – an invitation to fetishism, she is a fetish herself. I was fascinated by the exoticism of this character, by the atmosphere Puccini’s music so beautifully conveys”

Sonya Youncheva

All these roles represented true milestones in Sonya’s Yoncheva career. These roles are iconic characters in operatic literature, primarily in the soprano repertoire. They all share several commonalities, some of which are:

Strong female leads

Each character represents a strong female lead in their respective operas, playing pivotal roles in the storyline.

Complex Characters:

These roles demand a profound understanding of the characters’ emotions, motivations, and conflicts. They often navigate complex narratives involving love, betrayal, sacrifice, and resilience.

Demanding Vocal Range

Each role requires a wide vocal range, powerful projection, and a highly refined technique. They are often used to showcase a soprano’s ability to deliver both expressive emotion and technical mastery.

Historical or Mythological Figures

Several characters, such as Cleopatra, Medea, and Aida, are based on historical or mythological figures, reflecting opera’s frequent exploration of grand themes and larger-than-life stories.

Tragic roles

Most of these characters are tragic figures, often meeting a sad or dramatic end. Their stories explore the depths of human emotion and the consequences of passion, power, and fate.

Sonya Yoncheva’s interpretations of these iconic roles are exceptional due to several distinct aspects of her artistry. She showcases a remarkable versatility in her voice, able to transition effortlessly between different styles and periods of music, from the baroque strains of Poppea to the passionate bel canto of Norma or the verismo intensity of Tosca. This enables her to capture the unique musical essence of each character. Sonya Yoncheva possesses a rich, lustrous soprano that combines power with subtlety. Her command of dynamics, phrasing, and coloratura allows her to convey a wide range of emotions, bringing her characters to life.


Beyond her vocal skills, Sonya Yoncheva stands out for her profound dramatic insight. She doesn’t just sing her roles – she embodies them, conveying their emotional depth and psychological complexity through her expressive stage presence and nuanced acting. Her performances are informed by meticulous research and preparation. She delves deeply into each character’s backstory, motivations, and emotional journey, resulting in a well-rounded, believable portrayal.

Perhaps most importantly, Yoncheva has a unique ability to connect emotionally with her audience. Whether portraying Violetta’s tragic sacrifice, Tosca’s defiant courage, or Mimi’s delicate vulnerability, she invites listeners into her characters’ world, allowing them to share their joys, sorrows, hopes, and fears.

To conclude…

“Fifteen Mirrors” is not just a book; it’s a stirring aria sung from the heart, with words and images harmonizing to paint a captivating portrait of one of opera’s most luminous stars. As with a grand opera, it leaves us enlightened, moved, and eager for the next act in Sonya Yoncheva’s illustrious journey. It reaffirms that the artist’s creative path, like an intricate libretto, is crucial to fully appreciating the resounding echoes of the performance.

by  Sonya Yoncheva with Alain Duault
Publisher: SY11 PRODUCTIONS; First Edition (May 10, 2023)
128 pages
English and Bulgarian

José Amorim
Information sourced by the author for All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. All images are for illustration purposes only and property of SY11 Productions.