V1599. KYRA VAYNE, Vol. II: Songs by Bach-Gounod, Provost, Berlioz, Gretchaninov, Kotchetov, Vasilenko & Szymanowski;
Arias from Eugen Onégin, Sorochinski Fair, La Boheme, Fledermaus, Lustige Witwe & Der Fliegende Holländer. (Austria) Preiser 89993, recorded 1945-64. Final copy! - 717281899932
“The Russian-born soprano Kyra Vayne came to London at the age of eight. From the late 1930s to the late 1950s she sang in London, on tour in the British Isles and in Italy, graduating from revue and variety to musicals and opera. Then she disappeared from public view for nearly forty years, emerging in the mid-1990s as a cult figure after the issue of three CDs made from her old, privately recorded tapes. Later she recorded (at the age of 81) a disc of songs and operetta pieces, and wrote her autobiography, A VOICE REBORN (1999).
On the evidence of the early discs, and of some reviews, she had a fine voice; she was also a very handsome woman. Why did her career founder just when she was reaching her vocal prime? In A VOICE REBORN, Vayne tries to explain, but does not wholly succeed. Was it her deep sense of insecurity? Sometimes ‘personal problems intruded on, and destroyed my professional life - or rather, I stupidly allowed them to’. At other times she missed opportunities, especially in Italy, because she would not sleep with conductors or pay agents and managers. ‘Wherever I went I was the perpetual outsider’.
Born Kyra Knopmuss in St Petersburg just before the Revolution, Vayne and her family managed to survive in Russia until 1924, when the death of Lenin and the rise to power of Stalin forced them to flee to London. Vayne first sang with the Orthodox Church Choir near Victoria; later she joined the Chauve-Souris Russian Revue. She first broadcast for the BBC in 1938 with Teddy Joyce's Girls Choir. Meanwhile, Vayne went to two voice teachers whom she did not like, then found Mignon Nevada, daughter of the famous American soprano Emma Nevada, who proved eminently satisfactory. Between 1937 and 1941, Vayne, at first under the name of Kyra Vronska, toured in such musicals as BALALAIKA, SHOW BOAT, HIT THE DECK and CHU CHIN CHOW. Then, after auditioning for the comedian Vic Oliver, she sang Russian gypsy songs in his show VARIETY BILL which toured Britain. Oliver was also a serious musician and conductor, and Kyra Vayne, as she now was, sang with his British Symphony Orchestra.
Vayne took a step nearer her goal of an operatic career when she sang in Mussorgsky's SOROCHINTSI FAIR at the Savoy Theatre and then on tour, alternating with Oda Slobodskaya in the rôle of Khivria, and also with Daria Bayan as Parassia. This production was very popular, and returned to London at the Adelphi Theatre before going on a second tour. She also sang the title rôle of Gay Rosalinda, an English version of Johann Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS, at the Palace Theatre, for four weeks in 1945, and was then given notice to make way for another soprano who was able to put money into the show.
After the war, Vayne toured Scandinavia, singing at China Variety Theatre in Stockholm, the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and in Gothenburg and Oslo. In 1949 she was invited to sing Fevronia in THE LEGEND OF THE INVISIBLE CITY OF KITEZH (Rimsky-Korsakov) at the Liceu in Barcelona. She was coached by Maria Kouznetzova, who had created the rôle. In 1951 she sang Leonora in IL TROVATORE for Welsh National Opera. In autumn 1952 the Italian Opera Company gave a season at the Stoll Theatre, followed by a tour. Vayne sang her first Tosca, to the Scarpia of Tito Gobbi. The company returned in May 1953, when Vayne sang Leonora in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO with Carlo Bergonzi as Don Alvaro. Vayne had a long association with Eugene Iskoldoff, the impresario of the Italian Opera Company, who became her manager. She went to Italy to try her luck, and in 1954 sang Donna Anna in Dargomyzhky's THE STONE GUEST in Florence. She sang Tosca in Rome, Piacenza and Genoa. She also sang Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA with Gigli as Turiddu, in his last operatic performance at Rome. During the last years of the Italian Opera Company, which ended in 1956, Vayne sang Violetta in LA TRAVIATA, Leonora in IL TROVATORE and Tosca. Together she and Iskoldoff went to New York and then Hollywood to seek work. Finally their money ran out, Iskoldoff committed suicide and Vayne was left destitute. She became a secretary, and later a ceramic restorer. In 1961 she went to New York with the Players' Theatre under the name of the Strollers. She still broadcast occasionally, but finally even the BBC stopped asking her. Not until the issue of her first CD, with arias from PRINCE IGOR, PIQUE DAME and TOSCA, among others, was Kyra Vayne the singer reborn.“
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 15 Jan., 2001