|Year of Birth:||1918|
|Year of Death:||2006|
Ibolyka Astrid Maria Varnay (25 April 1918 – 4 September 2006) was a Swedish-born American dramatic soprano of Hungarian descent. She spent most of her career in the United States and Germany. She was one of the leading Wagnerian heroic sopranos of her generation. Her voice on record is readily recognisable by its fiery tone and seemingly limitless upper register.
Both her parents were Hungarian and born in small towns in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but she was born in Stockholm, Sweden, where her parents were living during part of World War I. During a Da Capo interview in 1988 Varnay claimed that although she was born in Stockholm, her ancestry was Hungarian, French and German. Her mother, Maria Junghans (who changed her name to Javor when she took to the stage as a singer), born October 15, 1889, was a noted coloratura soprano with acoustic recordings to her credit. Her father was Alexander Varnay (born September 11, 1889), a spinto tenor. Opera was the family business, and Varnay grew up backstage at the world's opera houses. Her father founded, and both parents ran, the Opera Comique in Kristiania (later Oslo), Norway (1918–1921). During one performance, she was swaddled in the lower drawer of the dressing room chest of drawers of the young Kirsten Flagstad.
The family moved to Argentina, then New York City, where her father died at age 35 in 1924. Two years later her mother married tenor Fortunato de Angelis and the family settled in New Jersey. Varnay had been studying to be a pianist but decided at age eighteen to become a singer and had intensive vocal lessons with her mother.