A Night of Opera in Bulgaria with Boris Christoff
When visiting Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia, one of the many essential things to do is to visit the National Opera House. Standing in the heart of its historic quarter, the opera house is home to the Sofia Opera and Ballet Company, which puts up regular performances throughout the year. While the imposing building doesn’t look too welcoming from the outside, step in and you’ll be surprised to find a lavishly decorated theatre connected with twirling stairways, laid with red carpet, and lit up with shimmering chandeliers. Today, the building stands as a testament to decades of glorious opera history in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Opera has been a big part of the city since the founding of the first Bulgarian opera company in 1890. As the company evolved, so did the opera scene in Bulgaria. But the opera activity was ceased for a while during the 1944 bombing of Sofia and since then, it barely revived.
Boris Christoff, a pioneering figure in the world of opera in Bulgaria, brought it back to life. As a boy, he demonstrated amazing singing talent when he sang at the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. He continued to achieve success as a chorus soloist and soon attained a government grant to pursue his musical studies in Italy. Although he spent much of his musical career in Italy, he never forgot his hometown – he was ultimately buried at the cathedral where he sang as a boy in Sofia.
Today, Boris is still considered one of the greatest basses of all times and his achievements are still very much celebrated in Sofia. Each year, the Sofia Opera and Ballet Company co-organize the Boris Christoff International Competition for Young Opera Singers in a bid to draw a younger audience and to support upcoming singers. You can also watch regular opera and ballet concerts in the hall – if you’re a music fan, be sure to book your tickets for the program in advance.
Photo | Nellie Huang