Artist Profile: Boris Christoff, Boris Godunov Himself

Boris Christoff was born on May 18, 1914, and would go on to enjoy a historic career.

The Bulgarian artist was a member of a boys choir as a youth but would go on to study law and initiate a career as a magistrate. He would sing in his spare time and when he received a grant from the government, he went off to Italy to study the core of the Italian bass repertoire.

He would make his operatic debut in 1946 in Reggio Calabria and then would dominate many of the major houses in Europe. Due to immigration problems, he would be unable to appear in the United States until 1956 in San Francisco. He never appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, but illness slowed his career and by the 1970s he was ready to call it quits.

He passed away in 1993.

Signature Roles

Christoff sang a plethora of major roles but he will forever be consecrated as one of the great interpreters of “Boris Godunov.” His name is virtually synonymous with the part and he recorded the work twice in his career. He also initiated the tradition of having the same bass sing the three roles of Boris, Varlaam, and Pimen.

In fact, he was also very dedicated to the music of Mussorgsky, recording all of his 63 songs; he was the first to complete the feat.

Read More on Boris Christoff

A look at his shared roles with Ezio Pinza

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording of Christoff in his signature role.

And here he is performing Russian songs.

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About the Author

David Salazar
Prior to creating OperaWire, DAVID SALAZAR, (Editor-in-Chief) worked as a reporter for Latin Post where he interviewed major opera stars including Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Vittorio Grigolo, Diana Damrau and Rolando Villazon among others. His 2014 interview with opera star Kristine Opolais was cited in a New York Times Review. He also had the opportunity of interviewing numerous Oscar nominees, Golden Globe winners and film industry giants such as Guillermo del Toro, Oscar Isaac and John Leguizamo among others. David holds a Masters in Media Management from Fordham University. During his time at Fordham, he studied abroad at the Jagiellonian University in Poland. He also holds a dual bachelor’s from Hofstra University in Film Production and Journalism.

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