Opera Scotland

Kyra Vayne Suggest updates

Kyra Knopmuss.

Born St Petersburg, 29 January 1916.

Died London, 12 January 2001.

English soprano.

Early years

Kyra Vayne's family fled from post-Revolutionary Petrograd and settled in London when she was an infant. She trained privately with Mignon Nevada, and initially found work in revues, music hall and radio.

At this period she worked under the name Kyra Vronska, but by 1940 when she got work in a pantomime, (title role in Bonnie Prince Charlie), at the Glasgow Metropole hostilities had commenced.  The management proposed a change of name, at which point she selected Kyra Vayne.

Operatic roles

Vayne's first operatic work was in 1942, when a production of The Fair at Sorochintsy had a brief London run at the Savoy followed by an extensive provincial tour.  She sang Khivria, a mezzo role, in the second cast (Oda Slobodskaya led the first).  At some performances Vayne took the soprano role of Parassia from Daria Bayan.

After the war she sang with WNO (Leonora in Il trovatore, Tosca) and in Dublin (Tosca, Leonora di Vargas). From 1952 to 1956 she toured Britain regularly with a largely Italian company imported by Eugene Iskoldoff, who was also her agent. Her roles included Verdi (Leonora, Violetta, Leonora di Vargas) and Puccini (Tosca).

After a period of further study in Paris with Maria Kuznetsova, Vayne appeared at the Liceu, Barcelona in several Russian roles - Fevronia in The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh (which Kuznetsova had created), Emma (Khovanshchina) and the Voice of the Cockerel.  Work in Italy included Florence (Donna Anna in The Stone Guest by Dargomizhky), Rome (Tosca, Santuzza) and Brescia (Tosca).  At Gigli's home town of Recanati she sang Santuzza at his farewell performance.

Vayne effectively retired from opera after Iskoldoff's suicide in 1956 caused her acute financial problems. She continued with an intermittent concert career, and in 1958 sang Tatyana in Aarhus, Denmark.

Vayne finally retired from singing in 1965.

Main source: her autobiography A Voice Reborn (1999).

Roles in Scotland

Khivria Tcherevik's wife, Parassia's stepmother
Sorochintsy Fair 1942
Floria Tosca a famous singer
Tosca 1953
Tosca 1955
Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon
Trovatore 1954
Violetta Valéry a courtesan
Traviata 1954

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