Rolando Villazón Mauleón (born February 22, 1972) is a French/Mexican tenor. He now lives in France and in 2007, he became a French citizen.
Rolando Villazon tenor born 1972
Rolando Villazón was raised in Fuentes de Satélite, a suburban area of Greater Mexico City, Mexico. In an interview for Mexican television, Villazón told the story of how he was discovered as a tenor. He said that one day, as he was getting out of the shower in his apartment in Mexico City, somebody came knocking on his door; it was baritone Arturo Nieto, a friend of his neighbour, who had heard him singing while in the shower. He told Rolando he had an amazing voice and invited him to his music academy to develop his voice, there Rolando fell in love with opera.
Late 1990s and early 2000s
He came to international attention in 1999 when he won second prize in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition (losing to Bulgarian bass Orlin Anastassov), as well as the first Zarzuela prize. The same year he sang for the first time in Italy as des Grieux in Manon at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In 2000 he appeared for the first time at the Berlin State Opera, as Macduff in Macbeth. Over the years he has presented many of his best roles there, among them José in Carmen and des Grieux in Manon.
In Munich in 2000 he sang Rodolfo in La bohème and in 2002 in Los Angeles, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. In 2003 he sang Rodolfo at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England. He also enjoyed a huge success in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Covent Garden, London. The following year he appeared, again singing the role of Alfredo in La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and in 2005, both at St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.
In addition to his appearances on the opera stage, he has an active recording career. He has recorded four solo CDs with Virgin Classics and is additionally featured, along with Patrizia Ciofi and Topi Lehtipuu, on the recording of Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda by Claudio Monteverdi, conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm.
In August 2005, he sang a highly regarded Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Carlo Rizzi, directed by Willy Decker. Co-starring was Anna Netrebko as Violetta. They also appeared together in a performance of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at Wiener Staatsoper which was released on DVD.
In 2007, Villazón switched his recording company and signed an exclusive long-term contract with Deutsche Grammophon. An album of zarzuelas (Gitano, Virgin Classics) conducted by Plácido Domingo, was released in Spring 2007. The U.S. version of his album Viva Villazón (Virgin Classics) was released in September 2007. In early 2010 he was a mentor and judge in the ITV show Popstar to Operastar.
Vocal surgery and the return to the stage
In 2007, Villazón cancelled many of his scheduled engagements in order to diagnose and remedy a persistent vocal issue. In May 2009, Rolando Villazón announced that he had to undergo surgery in order to remove a congenital cyst in one of his vocal cords. After completing his rehabilitation, he returned to the stage in March 2010 singing Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore at the Vienna State Opera in March 2010, and then embarked on a series of recitals.
He made his debut as a stage director with a new production of Werther at the Opéra de Lyon in January 2011. In December 2012, he appeared as Rodolfo in La bohème at London’s Royal Opera House, a role he first sang there in 2005. In recent years, Villazon has undertaken a number of Mozart tenor roles both in concert and in operatic performances, notably Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Festspiel Baden-Baden, the role of Alessandro in Mozart’s ’Il re pastore’ under William Christie at Zurich Opera House. His first all-Mozart solo album featuring the composer’s concert arias for tenor is due to be released in January 2014.