Personalities | Boris Christoff | Modern Era | Opera
As the leading Boris Godunov of his generation, Christoff benefited from his Russian mother’s insistence that he adopt her country’s culture. A difficult personality meant that controversy followed him throughout his life. Having sung with a church choir and local opera company in Bulgaria, Christoff emigrated to Italy in 1942 to pursue an operatic career. By 1945 he was singing professionally, and the development of his international career was dominated by Verdi bass roles. Christoff had an antagonistic relationship with his brother-in-law, Tito Gobbi, and during a production of Don Carlos this reached its breaking point. Further disputes embittered his working relationship with Maria Callas – during a rehearsal of Medea in Rome, Christoff accused her husband, Meneghini, of reducing his role by two-thirds. Meneghini hired a claque to disrupt Christoff’s scenes on opening night, while Christoff and Callas argued backstage. They never sang together again.
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