Queen of Russian romance Anastasia Vyaltseva
Queen of Russian romance Anastasia Vyaltseva. Once renowned circus wrestler Ivan Poddubny said: “In Russia there are three celebrities: I, Vyaltseva, and Gorky”. And there was much truth in this joke. Girl from a peasant family has become one of the most famous women in Russia. Her concerts were always sold out. Gramophone songs with her performance had huge circulations. Her name sounded in pre-revolutionary Russia, she was given the epithets “incomparable”, “Queen of the Russian romance”, “artist of the word”. In Vyaltseva, according to eyewitnesses, there was something unusual and magical. When she sang, the audience was immersed in a trance. Nemirovich-Danchenko himself called her a great actress, and Ilya Repin once exclaimed: “That’s what a true talent is, where the soul of genius, illumined by divine reflection”. On the day of her funeral the entire city walked behind the coffin – about 160 thousand people.
Life of Anastasia Vyaltseva was not too long, but extremely bright. She was born March 1, 1871 in the settlement of Altukhova of Orel province. Now it is Bryansk region. The family was poor. Father Dmitry died, and her mother Maria Tikhonovna, taking with her an eight-year-old Nastya and her two brothers – Yakov and Anany, went to work in Kiev.
Vyaltseva’s childhood passed in the workshop ladies’ dresses, where she scrubbed the floor. When Nastia was 11 years old, her “career” entered a new phase – the girl began to work in one of Kiev’s hotels as a servant. And then she was lucky – at the hotel often stayed actors who sometimes, along with tips gave tickets. As a result, Nastia had opportunity to run to the theater. That’s when she fell in love with all her heart with operetta, inspired by singing repeated what she had remembered.
And here again fortune. Once 13-year-old Nastya had a chance to clean the room of famous singer Seraphima Belskaya, who heard her singing. Belskaya advised Nastya to learn to sing, stressing that her place is not in the hotel, but in an operetta. Instantly Nastya left her work, found entrepreneur Lenchevsky and persuaded him to take her to the company. And he took, on the role of a page. The girl began to act simultaneously in the ballet troupe and vocal.
One day, after visiting the Moscow theater on tour, Vyaltseva decided to try her luck in St. Petersburg. The Small Petersburg theater took her to chorus. The first success came to her in the operetta – musical “Gypsy songs in the people”, where she performed fashionable city romances. In the role of a young gypsy girl Katie she sang the famous “I’ll fall in love when I want.” Here played everything – harmony, charming beauty of Vyaltseva and her amazing voice and charming smile, which then becomes her “firm style”. The next morning Vyaltseva woke up famous, and this romance came into her repertoire forever.
Then, many problems were solved with the help of patrons, and a man was found in the singer’s life. It was forty-year-old trendy city attorney Nikolai Kholeva, a true music fan. About their relationship spread rumors. Biographers of Vyaltseva usually insist on “platonic” version. But many did not believe in selflessness of Nikolai Kholeva. In any case, he played the desired role in the life of the singer. Vyaltseva began taking singing lessons from professor Stanislav Sonka, the chairman of the Saint Petersburg’s Vocal Society. Then there were the lessons from other masters of vocal, including in Italy. After a couple of years, the singer became a regular guest at salons and musical variety shows. Not much time left before the day when she will be called the queen of Russian romance.
In 1899 Kholeva died. By the time Vyaltseva was already completely independent and immensely successful. In 1897 she gave her first solo concert in Moscow in “Hermitage” garden. This concert marked the triumph, all publications were filled with positive reviews, journalists called singer “incomparable”. But the real star of “nationwide” scale she became five years later, when one businessman gave her a gorgeous tour – Orel and Kursk, Kiev and Kharkov, Baku and Tbilisi, Rostov- on-Don and other cities. In Petersburg Vyaltseva returned unconditional star, and her fees increased fourfold.
Since then, she began to give 40 concerts a year, traveling all over Russia – from the western border to Vladivostok. There was even Vyaltseva’s own rail car, built in Belgium. Holt was gorgeous – Empire style, decoration made of Karelian birch. There was even a boudoir, a dining room, and a music room with a piano. Vyaltseva rehearsed right during the trip! There was a carriage for servants, and a personal chef. It was rumored that such car in Russia, except Vyaltseva had only the Empress. Later the wagon will use Admiral Kolchak.
Sometimes profit from her concerts amounted to 20,000 for the evening – a record sum for those times. All the concerts were sold out constantly. Vyaltseva was able to bring the audience to the absolute madness. And what started out after the concert – modern artists can hardly imagine such success – Anastasia Vyaltseva was carried on hand to the crew, and once ripped her fallen scarf to threads. The public accompanied her up to the station.
In 1904, when the gramophone boom swept Russia, she became the owner of more title – the “queen of Russian gramophone”. Since then she has recorded around 150 records, which cost reached 6 rubles – too high price at that time. Anastasia Vyaltseva also performed in operettas: “The Gypsy Baron”, “Beautiful Helen”, “Daughter of Madame Angot”.
Anastasia Vyaltseva has long been alone, causing buzz whom “incomparable” should marry. And her husband became handsome Vasily Biskupsky – an officer of the Life Guards and a gentleman of Polish origin. With him Anastasia met at a concert.
The groom was 7 years younger than the bride. Their premarital relationship lasted long enough and singer tried to hide him from society. Biskupsky got on the Russian – Japanese war, and Anastasia made solid contributions to the wounded.
The charity in general has been an integral part of her life. She, along with Chaliapin and Sobinova organized a series of charity concerts in support of the expedition of Sedov, who was denied assistance by the tsarist government, organized a shelter for pregnant women in her native Altukhova, recovered two burnt villages in the Vilna province, organized concerts in favor of the starving students, gave funds to train gifted students.
In the end, Vasily Biskupsky was wounded. Vyaltseva interrupted concerts and went to Manchuria, where she became a nurse, in a field hospital. It was then that society revealed the mystery of their relationship. Vyaltseva took care of her groom, and when he was well, she began giving regular concerts for the wounded.
In 1910 they were married secretly. The groom had to go for the bride to make certain sacrifices – he retired in 1912 as a colonel. According to one version, Biskupsky had to marry with the personal approval of Nicholas II, as officers marriages to actresses were banned. However, her husband’s parents, no matter what, warmly welcomed Vyaltseva.
Marital status did not change the way of life of Anastasia: all the same countless tours, concerts, endless encore. She was a lovely, caring wife, a magnificent hostess, creating a cosiness in the house. In turn, she was adored by her husband.
God did not give them children. But during one of her concert tours Vyaltseva picked up on the roadside small beggar, who became her foster daughter. But after a few years, the singer lost her foster child. Shortly after admission to the school girl was seriously ill and died. Later in the life of Anastasia was a boy – Zhenya Kosharov, from a poor family, she took care of him as a son. After her death, Kosharov got large amount of money.
In 1912, she felt unwell. Doctor diagnosed overwork. She gave herself six months of rest, but then again went on tour. On the morning before the show in Kursk she felt bad. By evening, the singer felt better, and she went to the audience which filled a huge hall. And she sang the song “The Seagull” – a landmark in her work. After all, the singer compared herself with this bird. Singing a few verses, the singer suddenly fell silent, but the audience did not understand the reason. People clapped and shouted the names of songs. When Vyaltseva tried to sing again, she lost consciousness. It was the end. Singer returned home and stopped to speak. Because the new diagnosis was very different from the old – “acute leukemia, a blood cancer”.
In the newspapers of St. Petersburg and other Russian cities printed bulletins on the state of health of the singer, and reports on this topic posted on newsstands. To her house came Swiss Professor Enderle, fashionable Petersburg Badmaev, doctor practicing Tibetan medicine, Dr. Plesch from Germany that made a patient a blood transfusion … This procedure was unsuccessful, the state of Vyaltseva only worsened. She knew she was dying.
She died on February 4, 1913 at age 42. The entire city buried her – behind the coffin walked about 160 thousand people. The incomparable Queen of Russian romance Anastasia Vyaltseva was buried at St. Nicholas Cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
According to her will her two Petersburg houses were given to open women’s hospital for low-income pregnant women, and the other – to organize a shelter for abandoned children. The second paragraph of her will contained an order to sell all movable and immovable property at auction. Much of the money was allocated for the resettlement of the hospital and orphanage. Even after the death Vyaltseva continued to care about people.