Boris Christoff

Boris Christoff

Boris Christoff (Bulgarian: Борис Кирилов Христов, official transliteration Boris Kirilov Hristov pronounced [bɔrˈis ˈkirilɔf ˈxristɔf]; 18 May 1914 – 28 June 1993) was a Bulgarian opera singer, widely considered one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.

Christoff had an excellent voice with a distinctive dark tone. Although it was not as large as some other bass voices, he had no trouble making an impact in big auditoria, like the San Francisco Opera. Owing to his stage presence and dramatic temperament, he was a worthy heir to the grand tradition of Slavonic basses exemplified by Fyodor Stravinsky, Lev Sibiriakov, Vladimir Kastorsky, Feodor Chaliapin, Alexander Kipnis and Mark Reizen, among others. He sang mostly in Verdi and the Russian repertoire, and was also a refined performer of vocal chamber music. Among his most famous roles were those of Tsar Boris (Mussorgsky - Boris Godunov), Philip II (Verdi - Don Carlo), Mephistopheles (Gounod - Faust and Boito - Mefistofele), Ivan Susanin (Glinka - A Life for the Tsar), Zaccaria (Verdi - Nabucco), Tsar Ivan (Rimsky-Korsakov - Ivan the Terrible), Dosifei (Mussorgsky - Khovanshchina), Gomez da Silva (Verdi - Ernani), Fiesco (Verdi - Simon Boccanegra), Attila (Verdi - Attila), Padre Guardiano (Verdi - La forza del destino), Galitzky and Kontchak (Borodin - Prince Igor) and others.

Christoff made studio recordings of eight operas (Don Carlo, Boris Godunov and Faust twice each) and numerous live recordings (radio or stage performances). He was much admired as song singer and he recorded more than 200 Russian songs by Mussorgsky (he was the first to record all his 63 songs), Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, Borodin, Cui, Balakirev as well as traditional songs, mostly with piano accompaniment. He initiated the tradition of making studio recordings of Boris Godunov with the same basso singing three roles (Boris, Varlaam, Pimen).

While he was a grand performer on stage, Christoff had difficult off-stage relations with fellow singers and producers, which sometimes grew into public scandals. In 1955 he fell out with Maria Callas during the performances of Medea at the Rome Opera and in 1961 his contract with La Scala was terminated after an open conflict with fellow Bulgarian Nicolai Ghiaurov whom Christoff blamed for collaborating with the Bulgarian communist regime. Herbert von Karajan tried to make him sing the title role in Don Giovanni which would have been inappropriate for his range; this prompted him to sever relations with von Karajan.

He was the brother-in-law of the Italian baritone Tito Gobbi.

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Boris Christoff

Boris Christoff

Boris Christoff (Bulgarian: Борис Кирилов Христов, official transliteration Boris Kirilov Hristov pronounced [bɔrˈis ˈkirilɔf ˈxristɔf]; 18 May 1914 – 28 June 1993) was a Bulgarian opera singer, widely considered one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.

Christoff had an excellent voice with a distinctive dark tone. Although it was not as large as some other bass voices, he had no trouble making an impact in big auditoria, lik...

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8 albums
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VERDI  Aïda

Studio recording, 1955
Producer and XR Remastering: Andrew Rose
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Jussi Björling
Total duration: 2hr 26:44 

Zinka Milanov soprano
Fedora Barbieri
mezzo-soprano
Jussi Björling
tenor
Leonard Warren
baritone
Boris Christoff
bass
Rome Opera House Chorus and Orchestra

Conductor Jonel Perlea 
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MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov

Recorded live in London, 1961
Total duration: 2hr 34:04

Boris - Boris Christoff
Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Covent Garden Opera

Reginald Goodall
, conductor
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BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 - Symphony No. 2 - Double Concerto - Song of Destiny - Tragic Overture - Hungarian Dance No. 17 - Symphony No. 3 - Symphony No. 4 - Piano Concerto No. 2 - Violin Concerto - Piano Concerto No. 1 - Haydn Variations - Alto Rhapsody - Academic Festival Overture - Un Requiem Tedesco (A German Requiem, sung in Italian)


Recorded 1941-1954


Bruno Walter
, conductor
John Corigliano, violin
Leonard Rose,
cello
Erica Morini,
violin
Myra Hess,
piano
Clifford Curzon,
piano
Enid Szantho,
contralto
Rosanna Carteri,
soprano
Boris Christoff,
bass

Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
Hugo Strelitzer Choir
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
Rome Symphony Orchestra & Chorus of RAI

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BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 - Haydn Variations
BRAHMS Alto Rhapsody - Academic Festival Overture
BRAHMS Un Requiem Tedesco (A German Requiem, sung in Italian)
Live recordings, 1941-52
Total duration: 2hr 31:33

Bruno Walter, conductor
Clifford Curzon
, piano
Enid Szantho, contralto
Rosanna Carteri, soprano
Boris Christoff, bass
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
Rome Symphony Orchestra & Chorus of RAI