Alla Bayanova – Russian Edith Piaf
Alla Bayanova was a Russian Romance singer. She was compared to Edith Piaf for her mellow voice and simple yet dramatic style of performance.
Alla was born on May 18, 1914 in Chisinau into the family of an opera singer. At the age of 13 she began singing. Alla’s father, an opera singer, and the famous Russian chansonnier Alexander Vertinsky were her first teachers.
At the end of 1918, when her father returned from the front, Bessarabia became part of Romania. The family moved from country to country. In 1921 they settled in France. Alla was sent to study in a private school at a Catholic monastery. In 1934 the family moved to Romania and settled in Bucharest.
In 1936 she starred in the Polish film directed by Mikhail Vashinsky.
She began her career in USSR in 1973, when she had already been a famous singer. Bayanova’s repertoire consisted of Russian and Gipsy romances. In 1993 she was awarded a title Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, and in 1999 – People’s Artist of Russia.
She married an aristocrat, George Ypsilanti, and made several recordings of tangos (e.g., Columbia, His Master’s Voice). After her divorce Bayanova signed a contract with the Polish recording company Syrena-Electro.
In March 1941 Alla was arrested by the Romanian authorities and interned in a concentration camp for having performed in the Russian language.
In 2004 she sang at the concert to celebrate her 90th birthday. Her last work was in collaboration with Marc Almond.
She gave more than 500 concerts in various regions of Russia.
About 20 disks with Bayanova’s songs in Romanian and Russian languages were released, for example: Fly, my song (Leti, moya pesnya, 1999), Emerald (Izumrud, 1995), Days are flying… (Dni Letyat, 1998), The Best Songs of Different Years (2000), Goldfields of Romance (Zolotye Rossypi Romansa, 2001) and others.
Alla Nikolayevna Bayanova died of cancer on August 30, 2011 in Moscow. She was 97 years old.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had presented his condolences to Alla Bayanova’s relatives and friends. He made special mention of the singer’s rare beautiful voice and her unsurpassed skill in heartfelt singing of Russian songs.
Alla had three husbands.
Her first husband – Georgy Ypsilanti, the musical director of the orchestra, died in Los Angeles, California.
Her second husband – Stefan Shendrya, Romanian lord, Cambridge graduate, philanthropist, was arrested in 1945 and spent five years in the camps.
Kogan became her third husband. She married him in order to move from Romania to the Soviet Union.
Alla didn’t have children.