Through his uniquely compelling performances with leading international opera companies and orchestras, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the music world’s most critically acclaimed and beloved stars and one of the most outstanding tenors of our day. Heralded as “the most charming of today’s divos” (The Times) and “a great singer and brilliant entertainer, at once extremely funny and deeply profound” (Crescendo), he is among the most versatile artists alive today, maintaining successful careers as a stage director, novelist, and TV personality alongside his on-stage activities. His singularly beautiful voice and arresting stage presence have prompted widespread critical praise: “the sound of his voice is phenomenal … few tenors of such vocal power can shape such pianissimi” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and “his artistry [is] as astonishing as ever, fusing sound, sense and gesture in an uncompromising quest for veracity” (The Guardian).
In 1999, Villazón won several top prizes at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition and burst on to the international music scene. He has subsequently performed on all the world’s important stages. His current and previous signature roles include Alfredo in La traviata, des Grieux in Manon, the Duke in Rigoletto, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and the title role in Werther, along with Gounod’s Roméo, Offenbach’s Hoffmann, Puccini’s Rodolfo, Tchaikovsky’s Lenski and Verdi’s Don Carlo.
An acclaimed concert artist and recitalist, Rolando Villazón has also appeared with leading orchestras and conductors on concert stages all over the world. His outdoor concerts with Anna Netrebko and Plácido Domingo at Berlin’s Waldbühne on the eve of the 2006 World Cup Final and at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace before the 2008 Euro Championship Final were both televised live and watched by millions of people around the world.
In 2011 Rolando Villazón made his debut as a stage director with the critically and publically acclaimed production of Massenet’s Werther with the Opéra de Lyon. The production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore that he directed at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in 2012 (he also sang the role of Nemorino) was broadcast on television in December 2012. He made three further directorial debuts in the 2014-15 season: Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma in Vienna, Puccini’s La rondine in Berlin and La traviata in Baden-Baden.
In 2010 and 2011 he served as mentor and juror of the UK’s Popstar to Operastar. He regularly presents TV programmes for the BBC and for German broadcaster ZDF, for whom he co-hosted the ECHO Klassik Awards for three years running from 2012, as well as fronting a number of cultural programmes.
Mozart has dominated Villazón’s recent seasons, with Lucio Silla in Bremen, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni in Berlin and Vienna, Ferrando in Così fan tutte at La Scala, Milan, and his role debuts as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, both recorded for release on Deutsche Grammophon.
In November 2013 he returned to New York’s Metropolitan Opera to sing Lenski in Eugene Onegin, a role which he then sang in Vienna in March 2014. He started 2015 with New Year’s concerts with Daniel Barenboim at the Staatskapelle Berlin, sang Macduff in Macbeth at the Berlin Staatsoper, Don Carlo at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Hoffmann in Munich, returned to the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House and joined Cecilia Bartoli in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride at the Salzburg Festival in August 2015.
In autumn 2015 he travels to Japan with the Royal Opera for Don Giovanni and reprises the role of Werther in Munich before embarking on a winter concert series with Cecilia Bartoli in Zurich, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Paris and Luxembourg. In January 2016 he creates the role of the great explorer Robert Falcon Scott in the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s opera South Pole in Munich alongside Thomas Hampson and Mojca Erdmann, then sings Alfredo in La traviata in London, Alessandro in Mozart’s Il re pastore in Barcelona and Paris, and Michel in Martinů’s Juliette in Berlin.
Rolando Villazón became an exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon in 2007 and renewed his contract in October 2012. His first solo album for the yellow label, Cielo e mar in 2008, was followed by Handel Arias, Mexico! and La Strada/Songs from the Movies in subsequent years. In 2012, Deutsche Grammophon named Villazón its Verdi ambassador and he recorded Villazón Verdi, a homage to the great Italian composer in his 200th-birthday year (2013). January 2014 saw the release of an album of Mozart concert arias for tenor, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano. In October 2015 Deutsche Grammophon releases his Treasures of Bel Canto, a vivid exploration of the little-known song repertoire of four great Italian opera composers in orchestrated arrangements, with Cecilia Bartoli as guest artist. He has also recorded La traviata, La Bohème, an album of duets (all with Anna Netrebko) and Werther, as well as various DVDs, including Manon, Roméo et Juliette, The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbühne and L’elisir d’amore. In 2012 he embarked on a project to record Mozart’s seven mature operas under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The first, Don Giovanni, was released in 2012, followed by Così fan tutte in 2013 and Die Entführung aus dem Serail in July 2015.
With the extraordinary worldwide appreciation of his vocal artistry and growing demand for his unique insights as a director, Rolando Villazón has yet another string to his bow – as an author. His debut novel Malabares was published in Spain and Mexico in 2013, with German and French translations following in 2014. Fellow Mexican author Jorge Volpi dubbed the book “the fascinating first novel of a great artist”.