Figures of Plovdiv

Figures of Plovdiv

Boris Christoff  (1914 – 1993)

Boris Christoff (1914 – 1993)

1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM

Boris Christoff (May 18, 1914, Plovdiv, Bulgaria - June 28, 1993, Rome, Italy) was a Bulgarian opera singer, one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.

Christoff demonstrated early his singing talent and sang as a boy at the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. In the late 1930s he graduated in law and started on a career as a magistrate. He, however, continued singing in his spare time in the Gusla Chorus in Sofia, achieving an enormous success as the chorus soloist in 1940. Thanks to a government grant, Christoff left in May 1942 for Italy where he was tutored for two years in the core Italian bass repertoire by Riccardo Stracciari.

After several guest appearances and recitals in Austria in 1944 and 1945, Christoff returned to Italy in December 1945. He made his operatic debut as Colline in "La Boheme" at Reggio Calabria on March 12, 1946. The following years Christoff appeared in a number of roles at Milan's La Scala, Venice's La Fenice, the Rome Opera, Covent Garden in London, the opera theatres in Naples, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, etc.

In 1950 he was invited to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York but was refused entry into the USA as a result of the McCarran Immigration Act, which banned citizens of the Soviet bloc countries from entering the country---the role was instead filled by the young Italian basso, Cesare Siepi. After the restrictions were loosened, Christoff made an operatic debut in the United States in 1956 at the San Francisco Opera. He refused any further invitations to the Metropolitan and never appeared there. After a brief absence from the scene due to brain tumour surgery in 1964, Christoff resumed his career in 1965, though at a much slower pace. In 1967 he was allowed to return to Bulgaria for the first time since 1945, for the funeral of his mother.

In the 1970s Christoff on-stage performances were all but frequent. He brought his career to an end with a final concert at the Accademia di Bulgaria in Rome on June 22, 1986. He died in Rome in 1993 but his body was returned to Sofia's Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, where he was given a state funeral.

With his matchless stage presence and strong dramatic temperament, Christoff emerged as a worthy heir to the grand tradition of Slavonic basses. He sang mostly in Verdi and the Russian repertoire, although he also proved to be a refined performer of vocal chamber music. Among his most famous roles were those of Tsar Boris (Mussorgsky - "Boris Godunov"), Philipp II (Verdi - "Don Carlo"), Mephistopheles (Gounod - "Faust" & Boito - "Mephistopheles"), Ivan Susanin (Glinka - "La vita per lo zar"), Zaccaria (Verdi - "Nabucco"), Tsar Ivan (Rimsky-Korsakov - "Ivan Le Teribile"), 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. Boris Christoff made standards in most roles that sang on stage. He also has an enormous discography - studio recordings of 8 operas ("Don Carlo" and "Boris Godunov" twice each) and numerous live recordings (radio or stage performances). He was much admired as song singer and he recorded more 200 Russian songs by Mussorgsky (all his 63 songs - no one did this before), Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, Borodin, Cui, Balakirev as well as traditional songs. Most of these songs are with piano accompaniment and are among the best of all his recordings.

 

Nayden Todorov (born 1974)
Nayden Todorov (born 1974)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
Nayden Todorov was born in 1974 in Plovdiv. He received his first piano lessons at the age of five, and by sixteen had led his first concert as conductor. He studied with Alexander Vladigerov in So...
Dimitar Kirov (1935-2008)
Dimitar Kirov (1935-2008)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
Eminent Plovdiv artist. He graduated in 1959 from the academy of Arts in Sofia. He lives and works in Plovdiv. Winner of numerous art awards. His name has been connected to the so called P...
Hristo G. Danov (1828 -1911)
Hristo G. Danov (1828 -1911)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
Teacher, man of letters, founder of the organised publishing in Bulgaria; member of the BG Literary Society (todays Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). In the period 1854-56, while a teacher ...
Alexander Bourago, Captain / later Colonel (around 1853 - 1883)
Alexander Petrovich Bourago was an eminent military figure. He graduated from the Nikolaevsko Military Cavalry School in Sankt Petersburg, Russia. Captain Bourago was the comander of a cavalry squa...
Yosafat Shishkov, Father (1884 - 1952)
Yosafat Shishkov was born on February 9th, 1884 in Plovdiv, in a catholic family. In 1900, he became a novice in Turkey and accepted the name of Yosafat. He studied Philosophy and theology in Belgi...
Hristo Hristov (April 11th, 1926 - April 17th, 2007))
Hristo Hristov is among the most eminent film directors and screen writers in Bulgarian cinema. He was born on April 11th
Georgi Atanassov, Maestro (1882 - 1931)
Conductor, composer, pioneer of Bulgarian opera. He graduated as a student of Pietro Mascani at the Rossini College in Pesaro, Italy, as Maestro di Musica. Atanassov made his early career as a mili...
Theodosii Spassov (born 1961)
Theodosii Spassov (born 1961)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
The eminent Bulgarian musician is often a guest to his beloved Plovdiv on various cultural occasions. The virtuoso, who is the most popular shepherd flute “kaval” ‘s jazz performer, is practically ...
Tsvetana Maneva (born 1944)
Tsvetana Maneva (born 1944)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
She was born in Plovdiv on January 30th, 1944, and her artistic career starts from here. Today, most Bulgarian consider her an “intellectual type of actress “. The eminent Bulgarian actress makes h...
Atanas Samokovliev (1832 - 1905)
Atanas Samokovliev (1832 - 1905)
1/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
Atanas Samokovliev (also known by the nickname Atanas Samokovets) was born in 1832 in the town of Samokov. He was a trader and a public figure. He was the first Mayor of Plovdiv ...