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Nicolai Ghiaurov

Biography

Born: September 13, 1929   Died: June 2, 2004  
Ghiaurov excelled in both the Slavic and the Italian and French operatic repertoire, and he also moved with ease from serious to comic roles, though the serious roles played a greater part in his career. At times, he even took on some of the lower baritone roles, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen. He was also noted for his acting and compelling stage presence. During his prime, his voice was among the richest and most sonorous Read more basses of the twentieth century, and even as much of its freshness and bloom was gone toward the end of his career, it retained its expressiveness and technical excellence.

Though his family was quite poor, they encouraged him to explore his interest in singing, and when he entered adolescence, he borrowed instruments so he could learn clarinet, violin, and trombone. He also began to take acting lessons, briefly considering a career as an actor rather than a musician. When he entered the army, where he was a clarinetist and conducted the chorus, his singing talents came to the attention of the authorities, who enabled him to study with Christo Brambarov, and later at the Moscow Conservatory. His studies were conservative -- for the first year, he did nothing but vocal exercises over one octave -- a fact to which he attributed his spectacular vocal longevity. Brambarov introduced him to Italian style, a rarity for Russian singers during that time. He made his stage debut as Don Basilio in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at the Sofia Opera in 1955 and made his Bolshoi debut as Pimen in Boris Godunov in 1957. His Italian debut was as Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust at the Teatro Communale in Rome the next year. His Covent Garden debut came in 1962 as the Padre Guardiano in Verdi's La forza del destino. At the 1965 Salzburg Festival, he first sang the title role of Boris Godunov, a role generally considered the greatest challenge in the Russian bass repertoire. Aside from opera, he frequently performed and recorded Russian songs. Ghiaurov has established a place in musical history through his recorded legacy. His Boris was recorded commercially twice, once each in the "original" and Rimsky-Korsakov versions. He recorded Don Carlos in the studio three times, twice as Filippo and once (in the original French version) as the Grand Inquisitor. His early London/Decca aria recitals accurately document the size and beauty of his voice. He is also heard in Giulini's recording of Verdi's Requiem.

He was married to Italian soprano Mirella Freni and participated in guiding her into her forays into the Russian repertoire, notably Tatiana in Eugene Onegin and Lisa in Pique Dame. Read less
Browse 201-209 of 209 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Chailly, Pavarotti, Nucci, Anderson
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425864 Release Date: 11/13/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Leo Nucci,  Natale de Carolis,  June Anderson  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Chorus
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  • 202.
    Verdi: Requiem Mass / Karajan, Freni, Ludwig, Ghiaurov
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 413215 Release Date: 10/17/1988   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Christa Ludwig,  Carlo Cossutta,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Mirella Freni
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 203.
    Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin / Solti, Weikl, Burrows, Ghiaurov
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417413 Release Date: 05/11/1987   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Stuart Burrows,  Julia Hamari,  Bernd Weikl,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir
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  • 204.
    Verdi: Requiem / Abbado, Ricciarelli, Domingo, Ghiaurov
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415976 Release Date: 05/12/1986   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Katia Ricciarelli,  Shirley Verrett,  Placido Domingo,  Nicolai Ghiaurov
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 205.
    Donizetti: Lucia Di Lammermoor / Bonynge, Sutherland, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 410193 Release Date: 08/12/1985   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Pier Francesco Poli,  Huguette Tourangeau,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Ryland Davies  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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  • 206.
    Verdi: Aida [highlights]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4152862 Release Date: 06/03/1985   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido [Tenor Vocals] Domingo,  Katia Ricciarelli,  Elena Obraztsova,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
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  • 207.
    Ponchielli: La Gioconda / Bartoletti, Caballé, Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414349 Release Date: 02/18/1985   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Amilcare Ponchielli
    Performer:  Sherrill Milnes,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Montserrat Caballé,  Agnes Baltsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Bartoletti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finchley Children's Music Group,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus
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  • 208.
    Verdi: Aida / Abbado, Ricciarelli, Domingo, Nucci
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 410092 Release Date: 12/08/1983   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Elena Obraztsova,  Leo Nucci  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 209.
    Verdi: Don Carlos Highlights / Abbado, Ricciarelli, Domingo
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415981 Release Date: 01/01/1980   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Katia Ricciarelli,  Placido Domingo,  Leo Nucci,  Nicolai Ghiaurov  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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