Just in: Yoncheva’s out of Salzburg ‘due to Austrian regulations’

Just in: Yoncheva’s out of Salzburg ‘due to Austrian regulations’


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2019

The official version:

Sonya Yoncheva is expecting the birth of her second child in early autumn. Due to the regulations of the Austrian maternity protection laws she will not be allowed to participate in all rehearsals and performances; therefore the artist is no longer able to sing the title role in Luigi Cherubini’s opera Médée in the summer of 2019.

The Salzburg Festival is delighted with Sonya Yoncheva about this personal news, and looks forward to welcoming Ms Yoncheva back to Salzburg in the years ahead.

The Russian soprano Elena Stikhina will take over the part of Médée.

This is crazy. If she wants to sing, why should the Austrian nanny state tell her she can’t?



  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    Best wishes to Yoncheva. Stikhina is an excellent performer too!

  • Brettermeier says:

    “This is crazy. If she wants to sing, why should the Austrian nanny state tell her she can’t?”

    Laws are there also to protect people from doing stupid and careless things. And you read the comments here, too, don’t you.

    “second child” / “Médée”


  • The rules are obligatory so that employers can’t pressure women to “voluntarily” stay on the job and thus harm their unborn child.

    If only American women had such maternity protections, and a plethora of full time, year-round opera houses to sing in.

    • Brettermeier says:

      And don’t get me started on these communist laws prohibiting child labor! 😉

    • Bruce says:

      Good point. Our (US’s) employment figures don’t count people who left work “voluntarily” as unemployed; but many of those are women who have had children and want to cut back for awhile. Their employers refuse, leaving them with the “choice” of neglecting either their baby or their career.

  • Araragi says:

    Government programs often have the opposite effect of their intentions, harming the very people they are meant to help. Government mandated maternity leave gives employers a very real reason to discriminate against women in favor of men (particularly when combined with another favorite program of statists – equal pay laws). Leftists often complain that women are treated unfairly in the workplace but support laws that incentivize gender discrimination.

    What’s happening in Salzburg to Yoncheva seems to be another unintended and ridiculous consequence of these laws.

    • Marcel says:

      What you said just makes no sense at all. How can equal pay laws be harmful? And how does a law like this maternity leave law, which basically gives women job security while they’re pregnant, be harmful? As any conservative/right-wing person, you’re thinking a bunch of bulls$&@.

      • Araragi says:

        Marcel – if women truly are discriminated against in the workplace, then accepting lower wages is one of the best ways to combat such discrimination. If employers are sexist and will hire a man over a woman at a given wage, women’s best negotiating tool is accepting a lower wage. Equal pay laws forbid that type of negotiation. The employer who will continue to discriminate against women even though he can pay women a lower wage will suffer monetarily because the competition will be hiring women at lower wages. The market has a built in punishment for being sexist (or racist, or any other “ist”). I want there to be a monetary penalty for sexist employers. I find that desirable. Equal pay laws remove such penalties.

        • Saxon Broken says:


          While it is (sort of) true that discrimination will not happen in a perfectly competitive market, since competition between firms will drive out those firms that discriminate. Discrimination can happen if employers have what economists call “market power”, or there are “asymmetric information problems”. You basically need to study a bit more, rather than use the rather basic knowledge of economics you have.

          • Araragi says:

            Saxon – I never said that discrimination doesn’t happen in a free market. But your logic explains how people justify and rationalize government intervention. You create an argument that free marketeers don’t believe: that free markets never lead to discrimination, and then show that they sometimes do. You therefore deduce government intervention must be appropriate.

            In reality, free marketeers usually accept that some discrimination will occur in free markets. But government action often makes the situation worse, not better. Your burden is not simply to show a supposed market failure, but that the government redress improves the problem. Leftists almost always stop at the first burden (market failure) and rarely can show the government program has improved the lives of those it purports to improve.

            But your debate tactic is interesting: attribute an idea to me I never said (and don’t believe), show that idea to be false, then accuse me of not understanding economics. Bravo.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Any conservative/right-wing person? They’re usually the people running the businesses and paying the people and they’re definitely not those mired in hysteria and ideology. Just too busy, I guess, making the bucks and employing people. I speak from experience as an employer. How different the world can and does appear if you’re on the taxpayer-funded gravy train!!

    • Grs says:

      And you know that how? There is a story on this site about a singer being injured on stage. What would you say if something happened to the baby because of an accident? Tough luck but she can try again?

      • Araragi says:

        Grs, no one is saying accidents and tragedies don’t happen. To quite Tolkien, “leaving your front door is a dangerous business,” but no one suggests writing legislation to mandate that everyone stays home because people are run over by cars or hit by stray bullets. Accidents happen, of course. That’s a sad reality of life. But in a free society, we leave decisions about risk-taking to individuals. Because we recognize that leaving them to bureaucrats is a much scarier way to design a society.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Er…no we don’t “leave decisions about risk-taking to individuals”. And there can be good reasons for doing so. First, our decisions may affect others; second, we may not have a good way of evaluating the risk.

          There are plenty of things we ban people from doing, even in the USA. For example, jay-walking is illegal in the US; you don’t let the pedestrian decide for him/herself.

          • Araragi says:

            Saxon, your statements are somewhat true and somewhat false. We certainly allow individuals to decide on what risk is acceptable in many situations – the vast majority even. Everything from what to eat for breakfast (oatmeal would be less risky than bacon, from a health perspective) to what kind of car we drive (Volvo’s are statistically safest, though we aren’t all required to drive them).

            There are situations where risk is outlawed, your example being jay-walking. Jay-walking has externalities though – it affects traffic and may cause accidents. To some degree all decision making has externalities but we recognize that when those externalities become too great a burden on society, some government action may be appropriate.

    • Bruce says:

      ” Leftists often complain that women are treated unfairly in the workplace but support laws that incentivize gender discrimination.”

      …As if gender discrimination was never incentivized in the past. In the past, employers could simply say “we don’t hire women because they might have children;” now they at least have to come up with some other reason. There was a time, in the US at least, when laws required school teachers and nurses to quit their jobs (or be fired) if they got married. Not sure if those laws applied to male teachers or male nurses.

      Araragi may have a point, though, in the sense that appealing to people’s [employers’] sense of fairness is pointless. He would probably agree, and say that it’s appropriate: if “the market decides” that women should stay home and raise children, then who are we to argue with the wisdom of the market?

      • Araragi says:

        Saying that government programs create incentives for gender discrimination is not the same as saying gender discrimination does not exist in the free market so I agree with you that discrimination (in may forms) exists in a free market. But government programs should effect to relieve such discrimination, not exacerbate it. The problem with government programs is we often judge them by the good intentions of their proponents and not their actual results, which are often harmful. In other words, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

  • Pedro says:

    Stikhina is much better than Yoncheva.

  • Lydia Wahlberg says:


  • Hans says:

    I disagree that this is crazy. Yes, famous artists like Yoncheva can decide themselves whether they want to “work” or not during the critical time of a pregnancy and we can assume that she knows very well what she can or cannot do. However, probably 90 % or more of women worldwide do not have that choice. It is for them that laws like this one are made. And as an Austrian, I am rather proud that we do have such laws.

  • Ramon says:

    well, in this case this might be working for the best. What I have heard of Yoncheva lately over the airwaves is worrisome. I hope she gets herself sorted out because it is a very special voice. Also, she canceled the Traviatas she was due to sing at La Scala because of her pregnancy. Who knows?, maybe she is happy to take a break.