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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Boris Christoff Centenary (May 18, 1914 – May 10, 2014)

Boris Christoff - King Phillip II
The great Bulgarian Bass celebrates his centenary year this year. A commanding voice and prescence, he was one of the most famous exponents of the great bass roles including Boris Godunov, Phillip II from Don Carlo, Mephistofele from Gounod and Boito and of course Prince Igor. 

Not only was he renowned in the opera house, he was equally so in the concert hall and recording studio, a great champion of the songs of Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.  We are fortunate to have a great swathe of recordings from throughout his career, both live and studio based, including some video. 

I've chosen as a tribute this year, his King Phillip II from Verdi's remarkable opera, Don Carlo.  To me he is the epitome of the tormented monarch, torn between friendship and state.  The clip below is taken from the ROH, Covent Garden, the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1977.  In it Christoff sings the King's great Act 3 aria, Ella Giammai m'amo, the production is by the immortal Luchino Visconti which premiered in 1958 and revived right up until 2002.

The performance begins after all the royal fanfare at around three minutes, it's well worth a look.  A remarkable singer in one of his most celebrated roles.

   


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