Category Archives: Bassses

MANFRED JUNGWIRTH, Bass * 04 June 1919 in St Pölten, Austria + 23 October 1999, Passau, Bavaria, Germany;

Manfred Jungwirth

Jungwirth, Manfred, Austrian bass; b. St. Polten, June 4, 1919. He studied voice in St. Polten, Vienna, Bucharest, Munich, and Berlin; entered the Univ. of Vienna to study medicine in 1937, but passed the examinations in voice, piano, and conducting instead (1940). He sang for German troops in Romania and Bulgaria (1941–45); made his operatic debut as Gounod’s Méphistophélès at the Bucharest Opera (1942), and then sang at the Innsbruck Landestheater (1945–47). In 1948 he was awarded his Ph.D. in musicology in Vienna and also won first prize in the Geneva voice competition; then sang in Zürich, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, and London; he made regular appearances at the Frankfurt am Main Opera (1960–67) and the Vienna State Opera (from 1967). On Feb. 16, 1974, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. as Baron Ochs, which became his most famous role.


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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Bassses


BORIS CHRISTOFF, Bass * 18 May 1914 Plovdiv, Bulgaria + 28 June 1993 Rome, Italy;

Борис Христов. crop.jpg

Boris Christoff (Bulgarian: Борис Кирилов Христов, official transliteration Boris Kirilov Hristov pronounced [bɔrˈis ˈkirilɔf ˈxristɔf]; 18 May 1914 – 28 June 1993) was a Bulgarian opera singer, widely considered one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.

Born in Plovdiv, Christoff demonstrated early his singing talent and sang as a boy at the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia. 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
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.

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
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 auditoria, 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.

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

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]


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

Resulta ng larawan para sa Boris Christoff

Boris Christoff with his wife, 1960.

Boris Christoff at the age of four.

Boris Christoff with his mother at their home, Sofia, 1963.

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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Bassses


RAFFAELE ARIÉ, Bass * 22 August 1920, Sofia + 17 March 1988, Switzerland;

Raffaele Arié (22 August 1920, Sofia – 17 March 1988, Switzerland) was a Bulgarian bass, particularly associated with the Italian and Russian repertories.

Arié studied first in his native city with C. Brambaroff, making his stage debut at the Sofia Opera in 1945. He then left for Italy to further his studies, and was a pupil of Riccardo Stracciari, Apollo Granforte and Carlo Tagliabue. He made his debut at La Scala in 1946, as the King in The Love for Three Oranges.

He sang widely in Italy, creating in Venice, the role of Trulove in The Rake’s Progress in 1951. He also appeared at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Paris Opéra, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

His roles included; Osmin, Commendatore, Sarastro, Méphistopheles, Varlaam, etc. He was especially admired as Fiesco, as both Filippo and Il grand Inquisitore in Don Carlo, and as Boris Godunov.

Arié possessed a deep, easily produced and fine-textured voice, he can be heard on record, as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, opposite Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, under Tullio Serafin.

Raffaele Arié in 1955

Raffaele Arié as Mephistoles in Gounod’s Faust

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Bassses


HERBERT ALSEN, Bass * 12 October 1906, Hildesheim, Germany + 25 October 1978, Vienna, Austria;

A legendary heldenbass and chamber singer, Herbert Alsen initially wanted to become a violinist and studied that instrument at the local Hildesheim School of Humanistic Studies. During his Gymnasium years, he was the concertmaster in the episcopal orchestra and played at Sunday masses. It wasn’t until his later music studies in Berlin that he discovered his voice. During the Haydn Jahr celebration of 1931-1932, Alsen toured as a member of the choir that performed that composer’s Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) and Die Schöpfung (The Creation) throughout half of Germany. When the tour reached Hamburg, he was immediately contracted to sing as first bass in several roles at Hagen in Westfalen. His debut was in the role of Rocco in Beethoven’s Fidelio, and that performance was followed with ten more parts during the first year of his engagement. After performances in Dessau and Wiesbaden, he received offers to sing in Hamburg and Vienna. In 1936, he gave his first performance at the Wiener Staatsoper. That same year, he sang the role of Komtur in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Bruno Walter conducting, and the role of Pogner in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Arturo Toscanini conducting. After two seasons with the Wiener Staatsoper he was engaged to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. And afterward, he appeared on major opera stages, including La Scala, Covent Garden, Deutsche Staatsoper, and the Grand Opéra. He created more than 50 parts, the most popular of which were Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), and Osmin in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction From the Seraglio). In 1955, Alsen vacationed with his wife Gisela and daughter Marina in Mörbisch, a small town then right on the border of the Iron Curtain. He described the place as a “lovely, friendly little spot with peasant houses and dozens of wine cellars.” Upon sighting the Mörbisch bay, he decided then and there to organize the Mörbischer Seefestspiele (Mörbisch Sea Festivals), which a mere two years later premiered with Johann Strauss’ Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron). In 1959 Alsen converted the Forchtenstein castle moat into a stage. Until his passing in 1978, he carried on his singing career between the two country festivals.

Image result for Herbert Alsen

Image result for Herbert Alsen

Herbert Alsen Autograph

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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Bassses


NICOLA ZACCARIA, Bass * 9 March 1923, Piraeus, Greece + 24 July 2007, Athens, Greece;

Nicola Zaccaria (9 March 1923 – 24 July 2007), born Nicholas Angelos Zachariou was a Greek bass.

Born in Piraeus, Zaccaria studied at the Athens Conservatory where he enjoyed his debut in 1949, aged 26. He sang at La Scala in 1953 and his position as a mainstay of the bass operatic repertoire was assured thereafter. He was La Scala’s principal bass for almost 15 years.[1] He sang with some of the most famous singers of his generation, such as Maria Callas,[1] Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, and Marilyn Horne, who was Zaccaria’s companion in later life. Despite intimidating competition, he developed an impressive international career and recorded more than 30 operas for major recording companies. With Callas he recorded nine complete operas:

Aida (1955, as Il re d’Egitto)
Rigoletto (1955, as Sparafucile)
Il trovatore (1956, as Ferrando)
La Boheme (1956, as Colline)
Un ballo in maschera (1956, as Tom)
Il barbiere di Siviglia (1957, as Don Basilio)
La sonnambula (1957, as Il conte Rodolfo)
Turandot (1957, as Timur)
Norma (1960, as Oroveso)
According to John Ardoin in his book The Callas Legacy, Zaccaria also recorded under the pseudonym Giulio Mauri in the complete recordings of Il trovatore and Turandot in which he appeared with the soprano.

Nicola Zaccaria died in Athens on July 24, 2007 from Alzheimer’s disease at age 84.







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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Bassses


DONALD ADAMS, Bass * 20 December 1928, Bristol + 8 April 1996, Norwich;

DONALD ADAMS was born in Bristol, where he sang as a chorister in the cathedral and played Thomas a’ Becket in “Murder in The Cathedral” at the age of sixteen. His promising career in radio and on the stage was interrupted by war service in the Army, in which his dramatic talent found recognition as the Resident Producer of the Army Repertory Theatre at Catterick Camp. On demobilisation he returned to the stage, and was a successful singer in pantomime and music hall.

He joined the chorus of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1951, singing also some small parts, and the following season he played Colonel Calverley in “Patience” and understudied twenty-six roles, making his mark as a singer with a powerful voice and personality. He took over the principal bass roles, after the death of Darrell Fancourt, in 1953 and continued to play them until he left the company in 1969.

Together with Thomas Round, and others, he founded “Gilbert & Sullivan for All”.

He made his debut at Covent Garden in “Boris Godunov” in 1983, followed by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1984.

He was married to Muriel Harding and his interest in music was wide, including composing modern melodies and arranging music.

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Donald Adams autograph

Donald Adams preparing for “The Mikado”

Donald Adams in Act 2 of “Patience”


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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Bassses, Uncategorized


FEODOR CHALIAPIN * Bass * 13 February 1873, Kazan, Russia + 12 April 1938, Paris, France;

Image result for Feodor Chaliapin

Feodor Chaliapin, in full Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, Feodor Chaliapin also spelled Fyodor Shalyapin (born February 1 [February 13, New Style], 1873, near Kazan, Russia—died April 12, 1938, Paris, France), Russian operatic basso profundo whose vivid declamation, great resonance, and dynamic acting made him the best-known singer-actor of his time.

Chaliapin was born to a poor family. He worked as an apprentice to a shoemaker, a sales clerk, a carpenter, and a lowly clerk in a district court before joining, at age 17, a local operetta company. Two years later he went to study in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia), and in 1896 he became a member of the private Mamontov opera company, where he mastered the Russian, French, and Italian roles that made him famous. In 1895 he debuted at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre as Mephistopheles in Charles Gounod’s Faust. In 1901 he sang at La Scala under Arturo Toscanini, alongside Enrico Caruso.

Chaliapin’s interpretation of the title role in Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov was his most famous. His other major dramatic parts included Philip II in Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlos, Ivan the Terrible in Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Maid of Pskov, and the title (and, for him, the signature) role in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele. His great comic characterizations were Don Basilio in Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Chaliapin appeared at the major opera houses in Milan (1901, 1904), New York City (1907), and London (1913). A man of lower-class origins, Chaliapin was not unsympathetic to the Bolshevik Revolution. He left Russia in 1922 as part of an extended tour of western Europe. Although he would never return, he remained a tax-paying citizen of Soviet Russia for several years. His first open break with the regime occurred in 1927 when the Soviet government, as part of its campaign to pressure him into returning to Russia, stripped him of his title of “The First People’s Artist of the Soviet Republic” and threatened to deprive him of Soviet citizenship. Prodded by Stalin, Maksim Gorky, Chaliapin’s longtime friend, tried to persuade him to return to Russia but broke with him after Chaliapin published his memoirs, Man and Mask: Forty Years in the Life of a Singer (trans. from French 1932, reissued 1973; originally published in Russian, Maska i dusha, 1932), in which he denounced the lack of freedom under the Bolsheviks. After leaving the Soviet Union, Chaliapin performed frequently with the Metropolitan and Chicago opera companies in the United States and with Covent Garden in London. He also toured every continent, frequently with his own opera company. Although occasionally considered unorthodox, he was admired as a versatile and expressive recitalist, remembered for his repertoire of Russian songs. He made some 200 recordings from 1898 to 1936, starred in the movie Don Quixote (1933), and published the autobiographical Pages from My Life (1926). In 1984 his remains were disinterred from Batignolles Cemetery in Paris and reburied in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, alongside Russia’s most revered cultural figures.

Image result for Feodor Chaliapin 1900

Fine original very large vintage three-quarter length photograph of the distinguished Russian bass in formal dress.

Image result for Feodor Chaliapin

Image result for Feodor Chaliapin



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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Bassses

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