Nicolai Ghiaurov:
A Never Before Heard Interview


In 2002, the great bass Nicolai Ghiaurov gave an interview about his life and some of his most celebrated and acclaimed opera roles to Jon Tolansky for a radio series called Monte-Carlo Opera Masters that was carried weekly on Radio International in 2002 and 2003. This had been planned as an English language interview, but on the day Mr. Ghiaurov did not feel sufficiently confident to speak in English and thus answered Mr. Tolansky’s questions in Italian. As a result, the interview was never broadcast, and it has never been heard at all anywhere until this posting here in our Singers on Singing series.

One of the most greatly admired singer-actors of the 20th Century, Nicolai Ghiaurov was born in Velingrad, Bulgaria, in 1929, and died in Modena, Italy, in 2004. In his obituary for The Guardian newspaper, the distinguished writer and critic Alan Blyth hailed Ghiaurov’s “voluminous bass, imposing presence, innate musicality and commanding delivery”.

Twenty years on from recording the interview, Mr. Tolansky now offers his apologies to Hampsong Foundation listeners for his incorrect pronunciation of the composer Mussorgsky’s name when he refers to the opera Boris Godunov, and additionally he hopes that those who can understand the Italian language will derive rewarding listening as the great singer discusses his roles.

The music extracts are as follows (listed here in the order in which they appear):

  • Mussorgsky (arranged Rimsky-Korsakov) – Boris Godunov – Coronation Scene (Balkanton 010020)
  • Mussorgsky (arranged Rimsky-Korsakov) – Boris Godunov – Farewell and Death of Boris (Balkanton 010020)
  • Mozart – Don Giovanni – Serenade (Warner Classics 7044832)
  • Verdi – Don Carlo – Ella giammai m’amò (Deutsche Grammophon 0734085)
  • Massenet – Don Quixote – Regarde! Regarde! (Decca 430 636-2)
  • PLUS – Programme Closing “Theme Music”: Puccini – La rondine – Niente…niente….Ti amo (Warner Classics 5563382)

Jon Tolansky, Program Producer

Part of

Singers on Singing: Great Artists in Conversation

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