Ghiaurov, Nicolai, outstanding Bulgarian bass; b. Lydjene, near Velingrad, Sept. 13, 1929. He was a student of Brambarov at the Sofia Cons., and then pursued his training at the Moscow Cons. (1950-55). After making his operatic debut as Don Basilio at the Moscow Opera Studio in 1955, he reprised that role for his Sofia debut in 1956. In 1957 he sang for the first time at the Paris Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, where he quickly established his reputation. In 1959 he made an impressive debut as Varlaam at Milan’s La Scala, and in 1962 sang for the first time at London’s Covent Garden as the Padre Guardino. In 1964 he made his first appearance at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gounod’s Méphistophélés, which role he also chose for his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. on Nov. 8, 1965. In subsequent years, he appeared with most of the principal opera houses of Europe and North America, as well as at many of the leading festivals. Ghiaurov’s remarkable vocal and dramatic gifts placed him among the foremost bassos of his day. His other roles included Don Giovanni, Pimen, Ramfis, Boris Godunov, Philip II, Massenet’s Don Quichotte, and Boito’s Mefistofele. In 1981 he married Mirella Freni .
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire