Boris ChristoffOpera greatROME -- Boris Christoff, one of...


June 30, 1993

ROME — Boris Christoff

Opera great

ROME -- Boris Christoff, one of opera's greatest basses and a renowned interpreter of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," died Monday at home from the effects of a stroke suffered six years ago, said his wife, Franca.

Mr. Christoff, 79, brought deep psychological insight and meticulous phrasing to his many roles. His voice was focused and rich, and he was comfortable singing in Italian, German or Russian.

Aside from Godunov, he specialized in Verdi's grand old men and kings, including King Philip in "Don Carlo" and Fiesco in "Simon Boccanegra." He was also a master of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and the other 19th-century Russian masters.

He was born in Bulgaria and earned a law degree. Bulgaria's ruler, King Boris, heard Mr. Christoff singing in an amateur choir and was so impressed that he sent the young bass to study voice in Rome. He perfected his German repertoire in Salzburg, Austria, where he led a choir of Russian refugees at the end of World War II.

He made his stage debut in Rome in 1946 and went on to sing around the world.

Mr. Christoff became an Italian citizen, and lived in Rome for the past 40 years.

James "Son" Thomas, the last of the great Delta bluesmen to play only in the traditional acoustic style, died Saturday of a stroke at a Greenville, Miss., nursing home. He was 66. Mr. Thomas was a regular at the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival and was known as the last of the great traditional Delta bluesmen. His music spoke eloquently about what it was like to be poor and black in the Mississippi Delta.

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