Boris Christoff

  1. Boris Christoff Russian Songs
  2. Boris Christoff Don Carlos
  3. Boris Christoff Bass
  4. Boris Christoff Opera Singer
Works:1,217 works in 2,740 publications in 11 languages and 17,974 library holdings
Roles:Performer, Singer, Author, b=b, Other, Vocalist, t=t, Interviewee, Musician
Classifications:M1500, 782.1

The great Boris Christoff was a post World War II reigning bass. Bulgarian by birth, Christoff was able to quickly become popular all over the world due to his beautiful robust voice and what can probably be called 'method-acting' for the opera. Boris Christoff 's set of the complete songs of Mussorgsky is one of the greatest monuments to a single composer's greatest body of works, one of the greatest monuments to the art of singing, and one of the greatest monuments to one of the great singers of the twentieth century.

  • Boris Christoff : an authorized biography by Atanas Bozhkov( Book )
  • Basses in Opera : profiles of thirteen great basses( Book )
  • Boris Christoff : la vita, la voce, l'arte by Carlo Curami( Book )
  • Sreshti s Boris Khristov by Vani︠a︡ Pravchanska-Ivanova( Book )
  • Lugano recital, 1976 by Boris Christoff( Visual )
  • Boris Christoff : profilo di una voce. by Boris Christoff( Visual )
  • Boris Khristov -- nezabravimi migove ot edno prii︠a︡telstvo by Nino Lukanov( Book )
  • Boris Khristov by Olga Deĭkova( Book )
  • Trimata veliki bŭlgarski basi : Boris Khristov, Nikolaǐ Gi︠a︡urov, Nikola Gi︠u︡zelev by Aleksandŭr Abadzhiev( Book )
  • Boris Christov : nezabravimi migove ot edno prijatelstvo by Nino Lukanov( Book )
  • Li︠u︡bov i talant : (mladostta na Boris Khristov) by Penka Kasabova( Book )
  • Basses in Opera : profiles of thirteen great basses( Recording )
  • Boris Khristov v arkhivite na Dŭrzhavna sigurnost by Petko Mangachev( Book )
  • Boris Khristov : zhivot, glas, izkustvo by Carlo Curami( Book )
  • The art of singing golden voices of the century = L'art du chant : les plus belles voix du vingtième siècle = El arte del canto : grandes voces del siglo( Visual )
Faust by Charles Gounod( Recording )
30 editions published between 1953 and 2012 in 3 languages and held by 1,106 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
René Pape's swaggering Mephistophélès is as seductive as it is demonic in this story of Faust (Roberto Alagna) who sells his soul to the devil to reclaim his youth. Wasting no time, Faust falls in love with Marguerite (Solie Isokoski) but things soon begin to go horribly wrong. Her brother (Dmitri Hvorostovvsky) is murdered, she goes insane, and Faust is dragged to hell. But the music is unforgettable
Aida by Giuseppe Verdi( )
61 editions published between 1955 and 2015 in 6 languages and held by 1,062 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Aida. Zinka Milanov, soprano Fedora Barbieri, mezzo-soprano Jussi Bjoerling, tenor Leonard Warren, baritone Boris Christoff, bass Plinio Clabassi, bass Mario Carlin, tenor Bruna Rizzoli, soprano Rome Opera House chorus and orchestra. Jonel Perlea, conductor. Guiseppe Conca, musical director. Libretto and notes
Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi( )
52 editions published between 1958 and 2009 in 6 languages and held by 919 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
'Simon Boccanegra' Tito Gobbi, baritone Boris Christoff, bass Victoria de Los Angeles, soprano Giuseppe Campora, tenor Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera House, Rome Gabriele Santini, conductor libretto included
Boris Christoff
Boris Godunov by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky( )
91 editions published between 1952 and 2015 in 8 languages and held by 853 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Adapted from a play by Alexander Pushkin about the 16th-century tsar, Boris Godunov
Russian opera arias & songs by Boris Christoff( )
18 editions published between 1992 and 2007 in 4 languages and held by 743 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi( Recording )
59 editions published between 1952 and 2012 in 6 languages and held by 635 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
The young Leonie Rysanek triumphs in her second Met broadcast of the almost four dozen she would do during her astonishing career. Here she is Elizabeth of Valois, married to King Philip II of Spain (Jerome Hines), even though she loves his son, Don Carlo (Giulio Gari). Rysanek's heartbreaking performance fully connects with Elizabeth's passion and despair. Beloved baritone Robert Merrill is Don Carlo's friend, Roderigo, killed by the Inquisition. Blanche Thebom is Princess Eboli and future superstar Martina Arroyo is heard in her Met debut role as the Celestial Voice
Faust : (Highlights) by Charles Gounod( )
13 editions published between 1955 and 2007 in 3 languages and held by 548 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
I vespri siciliani by Giuseppe Verdi( )
56 editions published between 1951 and 2017 in 3 languages and held by 477 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
This astonishing cast introduced Vespri to Met audiences only a few weeks before this broadcast and opera lovers fought for tickets to hear in person what all the excitement was about. James Levine's conducting was as passionate as it was authoritative, and the singers responded with performances that are still talked about with awe. Montserrat Caballé is lustrous as Elena, the young woman whose marriage to Arrigo (Nicolai Gedda) ignites a bloodbath. Sherrill Milnes is in top form as Monforte, the hated oppressor, who turns out to be much more than he seems
Prince Igor by Aleksandr Porfirʹevich Borodin( )
31 editions published between 1967 and 2017 in 6 languages and held by 372 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Conductor Jerzy Semkov brings Borodin's Prince Igor to life with a vivid performance featuring Boris Christoff, Julia Wiener, and the Sofia National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
The very best of Boris Christoff by Boris Christoff( )
10 editions published between 2004 and 2005 in 5 languages and held by 365 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Parsifal by Richard Wagner( )
36 editions published between 1960 and 2017 in 4 languages and held by 365 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Wagner's mystical opera makes extraordinary demands on the conductor, but James Levine is renowned for the special affection and authority he brings to this transcendent work. The music shimmers and glows, evoking the legendary world of the Knights of the Holy Grail and the pure fool who brings healing power to the land. Peter Hofmann stars as the questing title hero, Jerome Hines sings the wise old man, Gurnemanz, and Mignon Dunn is the voluptuous Kundry, whose erotic temptations almost ensnare the young hero
The nursery : Sunless ; Songs and dances of death by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky( )
10 editions published in 2003 in 3 languages and held by 353 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Boris Godounov by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky( Recording )
30 editions published between 1952 and 2004 in 3 languages and held by 341 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Recorded July 4-15, 1987, at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C
A life for the Tsar by Michail Glinka( )
15 editions published between 1958 and 2018 in 4 languages and held by 336 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Liturgia domestica : op. 79 by Aleksandr Tikhonovich Grechaninov( )
13 editions published between 1979 and 2009 in 4 languages and held by 309 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
'The Liturgia Domestica by Alexander Gretchaninov is the last sacred work written before the Russian revolution and only work in the Russian repertoire that has orchestral accompaniment- featuring NYC Opera Star Konstantin Stepanov.'--Northern Berkshire Choral website
Russian melodies by Boris Christoff( )
6 editions published between 1977 and 2007 in Russian and No Linguistic content and held by 298 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi( )
4 editions published between 2008 and 2010 in Latin and Undetermined and held by 276 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Boris Christoff : the mighty Boris( )
3 editions published in 2013 in Multiple languages and Russian and held by 274 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
The best of Verdi by Giuseppe Verdi( )
2 editions published in 2009 in Italian and held by 273 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Songs by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky( Recording )
7 editions published between 1966 and 2003 in Russian and No Linguistic content and held by 272 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Audience level: 0.40 (from 0.33 for Boris Chri ... to 0.95 for Boris Chri ...)
  • Verdi, Giuseppe 1813-1901 CreatorAuthorMusicianComposer
  • Angeles, Victoria de los OtherSingerPerformerVocalist
  • Gedda, Nicolai OtherSingerPerformer
  • Cluytens, André OtherConductorPerformer
  • Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich 1839-1881 LibrettistCreatorAuthorComposer
  • Teatro dell'opera (Rome, Italy) Performer
  • Dobrowen, Issay 1893-1953 OtherConductorPerformer
  • Gounod, Charles 1818-1893 CreatorAuthorMusicianComposer
  • Santini, Gabriele 1886-1964 ConductorPerformer
  • Gobbi, Tito SingerPerformerLibrettist
Useful Links
Boris Christoff artiste lyrique
Boris Christoff baix búlgar, un dels grans baixos del segle XX pertanyents a la tradició eslava per molts considerat el successor de Fiódor Xaliapin, Fiódor Stravinski, Lev Sibiriakov, Vladimir Kastorski i Alexander Kipnis
Boris Christoff Bulgarian bass singer
Boris Christoff bulgarisk opera- och konsertsångare

Boris Christoff Russian Songs

Boris Christoff bulgarsk operasanger
Boris Christoff cantante de ópera búlgaro, considerando un dos mellores baixos do século XX
Boris Christoff Cantantes llíricos de Bulgaria
Boris Christoff chanteur d'opéra bulgare
Boris Christoff Italiaans operazanger (bas) van Bulgaarse afkomst
Boris Christov

Boris Christoff Don Carlos

Boris Christov bulharský operní pěvec, bas
Boris Christow bulgarischer Opernsänger (Bass)
Boris Hristov
Boris Christoff
Boris Hristov bulgarialaissyntyinen, Italiassa uraa tehnyt oopperalaulaja
Christoff, B.
Christoff, B. (Boris)
Christoff Boris
Boris christoff bass
Christoff Boris Kirilov
Christov Boris 1914-1993
Christov, Boris Kirilov 1914-1993
Christow, Boris.
Christow, Borys (1914-1993)
Hristov, Boris 1914-1993
Hristov, Boris Kirilov 1914-1993
Khristov, Boris
Khristov, Boris Kirilov 1914-1993
Kristov, Boris Kirilov.
Барыс Хрыстаў
Boris Christoff
Борис Кирилович Христов
Борис Христов Болгарияның халыҡ артистары
Борис Христов Бугарски оперски пејачи
Христов Б.
Христов, Борис Кирилов
Христов, Борис Кирилов Оперные певцы и певицы Болгарии
Բորիս Խրիստով Բուլղարացի երգիչներ
בוריס כריסטוף זמר אופרה בולגרי, אחד מזמרי הבס הגדולים במאה ה-20
بوریس کریستوف خواننده و خواننده اپرا بلغارستانی
Italian (203)
Russian (147)
French (53)
English (35)
German (30)
Bulgarian (16)
Church Slavic (6)
Multiple languages (4)
Spanish (3)
Latin (3)
Miscellaneous languages (1)
Борис Кирилов Христов
Born18 May 1914
Died28 June 1993 (aged 79)
Rome, Italy
OccupationOpera singer (bass)
AwardsLéonie Sonning Music Prize

Boris Christoff (Bulgarian: Борис Кирилов Христов, romanized: Boris Kirilov Hristov, IPA: [boˈris ˈkiriɫof ˈxristof]; 18 May 1914 – 28 June 1993) was a Bulgarian opera singer, widely considered one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.[1][2]


Born in Plovdiv, Christoff demonstrated early his singing talent and sang as a boy at the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia.[citation needed] His father had been a very popular cantor at Resen, attracting the faithful to the Bulgarian Exarchist church where he was chanting.[3]

In the late 1930s he graduated in law and started a career as a magistrate. He 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 the great baritone of an earlier generation, Riccardo Stracciari.

Performance career[edit]

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 bohème at Reggio Calabria on 12 March 1946. In 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 City but was refused entry into the USA as a result of the McCarran Immigration Act, which banned citizens of Eastern 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.

Boris Christoff Bass

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

Voice, repertoire, character[edit]

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 spaces 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.[citation needed]

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

A Monument of Boris Christoff near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria


Many recordings are available. The following list contains just a few.

Boris Christoff Opera Singer

  • His complete songs by Mussorgsky are available, produced by EMI.
  • He recorded the Verdi Requiem 3 times, once under Tullio Serafin in Rome 1959, once with Herbert von Karajan and once with Bruno Bartoletti.
  • Two recordings of Boris Godunov are available with Christoff singing three roles: Boris, Pimen, and Father Varlaam.
  • Two performances in major Wagner roles are available, both sung in Italian: Gurnemanz in Parsifal conducted in Rome 1950 by Vittorio Gui, and Pogner the goldsmith in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, conducted (studio) by Lovro von Matačić in Torino 1962.
  • Lugano Recital 1976 [DVD]


  • Sonning Award (1969; Denmark)


  • A rocky cliff forming Aytos Point on the coast of Bransfield Strait, eastern Livingston Island, Antarctica is named after him.[4]


  1. ^Kozinn, Allan (June 29, 1993). 'Boris Christoff, Bass, Dies at 79; Esteemed for His Boris Godunov'. The New York Times.
  2. ^Forbes, Elizabeth (29 June 1993). 'Obituary: Boris Christoff'. The Independent.
  3. ^*Livanios, Dimitris (1999). 'Conquering the souls: nationalism and Greek guerrilla warfare in Ottoman Macedonia, 1904?1908'(PDF). Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. 23: 197. doi:10.1179/byz.1999.23.1.195., Crampton, R. J. (1997). Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century-- and After. 2nd edition. London / New York: Routledge. p. 20.
  4. ^

External links[edit]

  • Boris Christoff at IMDb
  • Discography of opera recordings (Capon's Lists of Opera Recordings)
  • Boris Christoff - Life and Creative Work (Film of Ludmil Trifonov)
  • The Voice That Prays for Bulgaria (Film of BNT on 100 Years From His Birth)
  • 'Boris Christoff as Boris Godunov', J. Warren Perry Photo Collection, University of Buffalo Digital Collections, State University of New York at Buffalo. Music Library, 1958
  • Works by or about Boris Christoff at Internet Archive
  • Boris Christoff discography at Discogs
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