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Boris Christoff (1914 - 1993)


Boris Christoff’s father was a teacher and a keen amateur singer; his mother was of Russian extraction. After graduating in law in Sofia, he practised as a magistrate while singing with the male-voice Gusla choir. Having enjoyed great success as a chorus soloist in 1940, in 1942 Christoff so impressed King Boris of Bulgaria that he arranged a scholarship for him to study with Riccardo Stracciari in Rome. When Rome fell to the Allies, Christoff travelled to Salzburg, where he continued his studies with Muratti; but by the end of World War II he found himself in a camp for displaced persons. Eventually however he was able to return to Rome and to continue his studies with Stracciari.

At the end of December 1945, at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Christoff made his concert début, followed by his operatic stage début early in 1946 at Reggio Calabria as Colline/La Bohème. This was so successful that his aria in Act IV, the ‘Coat Song’, had to be encored. During the following season he first appeared at La Scala, Milan (as Pimen/Boris Godunov) and later at Florence, Naples, Rome, Trieste and Venice.

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