City Hall “Boris Hristov”
Address: 15 Gladstone Street, Plovdiv
The city hall which has been renovated after a fundamental repair is a multifunctional institution for cultural and educational activities, unique in structure and significance in Plovdiv. Previously famous as the Syndical House, the cultural center has been named after the popular opera singer Boris Hristov.
The building offers an Audience Hall, two multifunctional conference halls, a chamber concert hall and a lot of lobbies.
Boris Hristov was a Bulgarian opera singer, widely considered to have been one of the greatest basses of the 20th century.
Born in Plovdiv, Hristov demonstrated early his singing talent and sang as a boy at the choir of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia. In the late 1930s he graduated in law and started a career as a magistrate. He continued singing in his spare time in the Gusla Chorus in Sofia, achieving an enormous success as the chorus soloist in 1940. Thanks to a government grant, Hristov left in May 1942 for Italy where he was tutored for two years in the core Italian bass repertoire by the great baritone of an earlier generation, Riccardo Stracciari.
After several guest appearances and recitals in Austria in 1944 and 1945, Hristov returned to Italy in December 1945. He made his operatic debut as Colline in La bohème at Reggio Calabria on 12 March 1946. In following years Hristov appeared in a number of roles at Milan's La Scala, Venice's La Fenice, the Rome Opera, Covent Garden in London, the opera theatres in Naples, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, etc.
In 1950 he was invited to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York but was refused entry into the USA as a result of the McCarran Immigration Act, which banned citizens of Eastern bloc countries from entering the country. The role was instead filled by the young Italian basso, Cesare Siepi. After the restrictions were loosened, Hristov made an operatic debut in the United States in 1956 at the San Francisco Opera. He refused any further invitations to the Metropolitan and never appeared there. After a brief absence from the scene due to brain tumor surgery in 1964, Hristov resumed his career in 1965, though at a much slower pace. In 1967 he was allowed to return to Bulgaria for the first time since 1945, for the funeral of his mother.
In the 1970s Hristov’s stage performances were all but frequent. He brought his career to an end with a final concert at the Accademia di Bulgaria in Rome on 22 June 1986. He died in Rome in 1993 and his body was returned to Bulgaria, where he was given a state funeral and buried in Sofia's Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Boris Hristov is famous mainly for his performances in operas by Verdi, as well as by some Russian composers. A special place in his repertoire takes the role of Boris in “Boris Gudunov”- he is considered to be the second best actor for this role after Fyodr Shalyapin. He has also proven to be an excellent lay clerk. He has recorded all the songs of Modest Musorgski.
Boris Hristov leaves his mark not only with his huge talent, but also with his patriotism and his willingness to support the Bulgarian legacy.