Yesterday we took a look at two titanic sopranos that shared a birthday. Today, May 18, we turn our attention to two important basses that were also born on the same day.
Ezio Pinza’s birth came on this day in 1892 while Boris Christoff’s came in 1914. Both artists led rather different careers with the former finishing out his career taking on Broadway in such shows as “South Pacific.” He also appeared in several Hollywood films. Christoff’s career was marred by controversial bans against those of the Soviet bloc. Pinza was a Metropolitan Opera fixture; Christoff never performed at the famed opera house after immigration difficulties stopped him from making his debut.
Pinza dominated the bel canto repertoire, Christoff the Russian.
And yet, the two men shared a few major roles. Enjoy!
Christoff is widely seen as the Godunov of his day, performing it throughout his career and recording it twice. While he dominated the lead role, he also took on the roles of Pimen and Father Varlaam. Pinza also sang the title role of Boris, though he sang it in Italian. He first took it on at the Met in 1939, though he had come into contact with the opera far earlier in his career when he sang the role of Pimen.
Christoff was a renowned Verdi interpreter and Fiesco was one of his signature roles. He famously recorded it with his brother-in-law Tito Gobbi. Pinza also sang the role of Fiesco, taking on the role at the Metropolitan Opera 16 times throughout his career.
Pinza performed as Silva five times during his time at the Met, making notable recordings of the aria from the opera. Christoff was a famed proponent of the role, his interpretations immortalized on a number of famous recordings of the opera. Among his most revered is the Dimitri Mitropoulos recording that includes Mario Del Monaco and Anita Cerquetti.
La Forza del Destino
Pinza performed the role of the Padre Guardiano 23 times throughout his Met Opera career, his last appearance in the opera coming in 1943. He recorded excerpts with Rosa Ponselle, though he never produced a full recording of the late Verdi opera. Christoff meanwhile is featured on an iconic recording of the opera that stars Franco Corelli, Ettore Bastianini, and Renata Tebaldi. He sang the role throughout his career and created one of the most famous interpretations of the beloved priest.