Rolando Villazón - Biography
Through his uniquely compelling performances with leading opera houses and orchestras around the world, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the music world’s most critically acclaimed and beloved stars and as one of the leading 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), Rolando Villazón is among the most versatile artists alive today, maintaining successful careers as a stage director, novelist, and TV personality next to his on-stage career. His singularly beautiful voice and arresting stage presence have prompted critics to hail him as “better than ever before…the sound of his voice is phenomenal…few tenors of such vocal power can shape such pianissimi” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and “his artistry 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 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 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 will make three further directorial debuts in the 2014-15 season.
Rolando Villazón began the 2013-14 season with “powerfully radiant” (Weser Kurier) performances as Mozart’s Lucio Silla with the Musikfest Bremen, conducted by Mark Minkowski. Mozart dominates the tenor’s season throughout: In October 2013 he performs Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Berlin Staatsoper, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and in January 2014 at the Vienna Staatsoper, followed by his return in summer 2014 to Milan’s Teatro alla Scala for performances as Ferrando in Così fan tutte in a new production directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Daniel Barenboim, before closing the season in July 2014 with his role debut as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden to be recorded for release on Deutsche Grammophon.
In November 2013 he returns to New York’s Metropolitan Opera to sing Lenski in Eugene Onegin, a role which he will also sing in Vienna in March 2014. Villazón joins Emmanuelle Haim and her Le Concert d’Astrée for Monteverdi-themed concerts in Paris in February 2014 and can be heard in recital in Regensburg, Bremen, Graz and at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.
January 2014 sees the release of an album of Mozart Concert Arias for tenor, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano. In Spring 2014 he performs the concert arias with the Basel Chamber Orchestra on a European tour which takes him to Prague, Munich, Vienna, Paris, Dortmund, Berlin and London.
Rolando Villazón became an exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon in 2007 and renewed his contract in October 2012. The yellow label has released his recordings of La traviata and La Bohème (both with Anna Netrebko) and Werther, DVDs of Manon (with Netrebko), Roméo et Juliette and The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbühne, as well as CDs of duets with Anna Netrebko, Italian opera arias, Handel arias and classic Mexican songs. 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 September 2012; the second, Così fan tutte, in August 2013.
Deutsche Grammophon named Villazón its Verdi ambassador and he recorded Villazón Verdi, an homage to the great Italian composer in his 200th birthday year (2013), released in November 2012. In October 2013 he co-hosted the ECHO Klassik Awards at the Konzerthaus Berlin, where he also was honoured with the award for Solo Recording of the Year/Voice (Arias/Recitals) for Villazón Verdi.
In April 2013 Rolando Villazón displayed a new talent with the publication of his debut novel, Malabares, It was released in Mexico in October 2013 and will appear in France and Germany during 2014. The book has been dubbed “The fascinating first novel of a great artist” by fellow Mexican author Jorge Volpi.