The bass, Nicolai Ghiaurov, was born in Velingrad on 13 September 1929. As a child he sang in a church choir where he was discovered to have had an exceptional voice. After beginning his vocal studies in Sofia with Christo Brambarov he completed studies in Leningrad and Moscow.
1955 proved to be an important year in his career, first in winning First Prize in a vocal competition in Paris and then in his stage debut at the Sofia National Opera as Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville. In 1957, following a guest appearance as Ramfis at the Vienna State Opera additional engagements took him to the Bolshoi and to La Scala as Boris Godunov and Phillip in Don Carlo. A performance in Forza del Destino brought him to London and Covent Garden in 1962. Since 1962, he as been a regular soloist with the Vienna State Opera. At the Arena di Verona, engagements from 1961 to 1964 led to performances at the Salzburg Festivals of 1965-66 as Boris Godunov conducted by Herbert von Karajan. At the Paris Grand Opéra he sang the title role of Don Quichotte in 1974. His debut in the United States was at the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1964 followed by his debut at the Metropolitan Opera on 8 November 1965 as Mefistofele in Faust. At the Met additional roles included Philip in Don Carlo, Fiesco and Padre Guardiano in Forza del Destino. Additional appearances in the United States included Houston and San Francisco. In 1990-91 he returned to the Met as Boris Godunov.
He is married to the famous Italian soprano, Mirella Freni.
We are pleased to present him here in Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina