“In the previously yawning gap in the entertainment industry for an opera singer who can sing arias and clown like Buster Keaton steps Rolando Villazon.… his brand of chilled-out entertainment is hard to resist.”
– The Times
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).
It was as the winner of several prizes at Plácido Domingo’s “Operalia” Competition in 1999 (including the audience award and the Zarzuela prize) that Rolando Villazón first burst on the international music scene. He made his European debut that same year as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon in Genoa, swiftly followed by further debuts at the Opéra de Paris as Alfredo in La traviata; and the Staatsoper Berlin as Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth.
He went on to become one of the most sought-after performers of his generation, as highlighted by a string of highly successful debuts with Europe’s leading opera houses such as the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich as Rodolfo in La bohème and the Vienna Staatsoper as Gounod’s Roméo. The tenor has since frequently returned to Vienna for performances as Massenet’s Werther, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Des Grieux, the title role in Les contes d’Hoffmann, the Duke in Rigoletto, Alfredo in La traviata, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Lenski in Eugene Onegin. Munich audiences have seen Rolando Villazón perform the title role in Gounod’s Faust, Alfredo, Roméo as well as the title role in a new production of Les contes d’Hoffmann with the Bayerische Staatsoper in addition to concert performances of La bohème at the Gasteig which were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and released on CD in 2008. At the Deutsche Oper Berlin he was recently heard in the title role of Verdi’s Don Carlo.
Rolando Villazón made his Salzburg Festival debut in 2005 with triumphant performances as Alfredo in a new production of La traviata alongside Anna Netrebko and Thomas Hampson. Deutsche Grammophon released both CD and DVD recordings of the production in 2005. In 2008, he returned for a new production of Roméo et Juliette which was broadcast live on television and recorded by Deutsche Grammophon for DVD release in 2009. In 2012, he made his acclaimed Mozart-debut at the Salzburg Festival, performing Alessandro in Il re pastore. He returned to Salzburg in 2013 for lauded performances in the title role of a new production of Mozart’s Lucio Silla and Mozart Matinee-performances conducted by Ivor Bolton in 2014. 2015 he made his acclaimed role debut as Pylade in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride alongside Cecilia Bartoli in the title role. Further acclaimed European festival appearances include Bregenz, Glyndebourne, Orange, the Musikfest Bremen and Klara Festival Brussels.
Since his debut, Rolando Villazón frequently appears with the Staatsoper Berlin, often collaborating with Daniel Barenboim to great popular and critical acclaim. Highlights include his role debut as Don José in a new production of Carmen, as well as new productions of La traviata, Manon and Eugene Onegin as well as one of his signature roles Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. At the Opéra de Paris, audiences have seen him in performances of Faust, La traviata, Les contes d’Hoffmann and Werther. The role of Hoffmann was also the vehicle for his triumphant debut at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden where he has since returned for performances of Lenski, the Duke, Rodolfo, the title role in a new production of Don Carlo and the title role in Massenet’s Werther, both led by Sir Antonio Pappano. 2015 he returned in the role of Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni). Rolando Villazón has furthermore appeared with the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels as Rodolfo and made his role debut as Verdi’s Don Carlo in a new production with Amsterdam Opera conducted by Riccardo Chailly. He made his debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona as Nemorino and returned for a new production of Manon alongside Natalie Dessay. Both Manon and Don Carlo have also been released on DVD. He gave his debut at Zurich Opera as Alfredo, and returned for a new production of Il re pastore led by Sir William Christie, and performances of L’elisir d’amore. In 2010, he debuted with La Scala di Milan as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and returned in 2014 to sing Ferrando in a new production of Cosi fan tutte conducted by Daniel Barenboim. In 2011 he made his role-debut as Don Ottavio with the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, followed by his role-debuts as Ferrando in Così fan tutte and Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in concert performances recorded for CD release in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In 2015, he added Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro as a further instalment of the Mozart Cycle.
Since his acclaimed debut with the Metropolitan Opera New York as Alfredo, he has returned to star in performances as Verdi’s Duke, Rodolfo, Edgardo and in a sold-out Metropolitan Opera Pension Fund Gala Performance in April 2007. In 2013, Rolando Villazón made an acclaimed to the return to New York as Lensky in Eugene Onegin. A favorite with Los Angeles Opera since his debut in La traviata, the tenor has since appeared in productions of Gianni Schicchi, Roméo et Juliette and Manon.
In concert, Rolando Villazón has appeared with leading orchestras and conductors on concert stages all over the world, including appearances at the Salzburg Mozart Week with the Vienna Philharmonic, London’s Barbican and Royal Festival Halls, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Salle Pleyel in Paris, Berlin, Munich and Cologne Philharmonie, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Academy of Santa Cecilia, Carnegie Hall New York as well as sold-out concerts in amongst others Miami, Vancouver, Tokyo, Toulouse, Monte Carlo, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague, Zurich, Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Madrid, Copenhagen and Helsinki. To celebrate Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th anniversary, 2013 saw the tenor embark on a sold-out 15-city-tour featuring Verdi’s music. The concerts were watched by nearly 25,000 people across Europe. In 2014, he performed Mozart’s concert arias for tenor with the Basel Chamber Orchestra on a European tour which took him to Berlin, London, Paris, Dortmund, Prague and Vienna. In 2007, he gave his German recital debut performing Schumann’s Dichterliebe accompanied by Daniel Barenboim, a success repeated the following year also at Staatsoper Berlin. In 2014, the duo gave a recital at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. Daniel Barenboim also led the tenor in the European premiere of Elliot Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture in 2013, alongside the Staatskapelle Berlin. In the 14/15 season he joined the Staatskapelle Berlin for New Year’s concerts with a tango- themed program under the baton of Daniel Barenboim and a gala concert with arias from Zarzuelas led by Plácido Domingo at the Philharmonie Berlin. Together with accompanist Gerold Huber, he appeared in recital at the 2010 Salzburg Festival and the Vienna Musikverein 2011. His outdoor concerts with Plácido Domingo and Anna Netrebko at Berlin’s Waldbühne on the eve of the 2006 World Cup Final and at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace in advance of the 2008 Euro Championship Final were both televised live and watched by millions of people around the world. In 2013, he sang an internationally broadcast open-air concert at Munich’s Odeonsplatz alongside Thomas Hampson and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who also led the gala concert which marked his Montreal-debut in June 2015.
Rolando Villazón’s vast discography includes a recital of Italian arias, a recital of arias by Gounod and Massenet, as well as an “Opera Recital”, all for EMI/Virgin Classics. The same label has also released recordings of Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi and I Lamenti conducted by Emmanuelle Haim as well as a Zarzuela CD entitled “Gitano” led by Plácido Domingo. All recordings have won unanimous critical praise. DVD releases for EMI/Virgin Classics also include the Vienna State Opera production of L’elisir d’amore, and for Decca the Los Angeles Opera production of La traviata opposite Renée Fleming. Further releases on EMI/Virgin Classics include a recording of Verdi’s Requiem with the Academy of Santa Cecilia, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano and a recording of Vivaldi’s Ercole led by Fabio Biondi.
In 2007, Rolando Villazón became an exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon. His releases on the yellow label include a CD of operatic duets with soprano Anna Netrebko as well as both CD and DVD recordings of La traviata, recorded live at the Salzburg Festival. In 2006, La traviata garnered a Grammy nomination and both La traviata and “Duets” were awarded Klassik Echo Awards as Germany’s best-selling albums in 2006 and 2008 respectively. The tenor received a further Klassik Echo Award in 2007 for the DVD of the 2006 Waldbühne concert. 2008 saw his highly acclaimed first solo release with Deutsche Grammophon, an album of rare Italian arias entitle “Cielo e mar”. In 2009, he released a complete recording of Puccini’s La bohème in addition to an acclaimed album of Handel arias in collaboration with renowned specialists Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Players. To date, all of his albums have been best-sellers, earning gold and platinum status in Germany and Austria. His recording “Duets” claimed the top spot on the Billboard classical chart shortly after its release in the U.S., and in Europe set a record for the best debut ever for a classical album, climbing to the top of the pop charts in several countries. His recording, “México!”, featuring new arrangements of classical
Mexican songs, was released on DG in September 2010 and was awarded with the ECHO Klassik in 2011. In spring 2012 a critically acclaimed complete recording of Werther conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano was released, followed by complete recordings of Don Giovanni also in 2012, Così fan tutte in 2013 and of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 2015, the first three installments of a seven-part Mozart cycle conceived by the tenor and conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin. On the occasion of Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th anniversary, Rolando Villazón released a recording of arias by the composer, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Early 2014 a recording of Mozart’s Concert Arias for tenor was released, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano. In October 2015 his new solo album “Treasures of Bel Canto” with newly orchestrated songs by Bellini, Verdi, Rossini and Donizetti is released.
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 Lyon. In 2012 he directed Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. In the same production, labeled a “double triumph” and broadcast on international TV in December 2012, he also sang the part of Nemorino. The 14/15 season saw Rolando Villazón directing three new productions: he made his debut at Vienna Volksoper where he directed Donizetti’s Viva la mamma and, in his directorial debut there, staged Puccini’s La rondine for Deutsche Oper Berlin. Finally, he returned to Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus to direct a new production of Verdi’s La traviata.
Rolando Villazón has been profiled in numerous international newspapers and magazines and featured on television shows such Germany’s Wetten, dass..? and Musical Showstar and the UK’s Royal Variety Show; documentaries on him have been televised in Austria, Germany, the UK and France. In 2010 he became mentor and juror of the UK’s Pop Star to Opera Star, a role he repeated in the second series in 2011. He is regularly presenting TV-programmes for the BBC and ZDF, where he is the host of the ECHO Klassik Gala as well as fronting a number of cultural programmes. He has his own series “Stars von morgen” on Arte, televised in France and Germany and is a frequent guest, both as mentor and juror, on KiKa’s “Dein Song”. In the fall of 2008 and throughout 2009, he starred in a feature film release of Puccini’s La bohème, directed by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated director Robert Dornhelm. In 2013, Rolando Villazón’s debut novel “Malabares” was published in Spain. German and French translations of the novel have been published in 2014.
Rolando Villazón kicks off the 15/16 season singing Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) during the Japan tour of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Afterwards he returns to the Bayerische Staaatsoper in the title role of Massenet’s Werther and as Robert Scott in the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s new opera South Pole. He performs Alfredo (La traviata) at Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London as well as in performances of the Munich Opera Festival. Another role debut this season is Michel in Bohuslav Martinu‘s Juliette with the Staatsoper Berlin, in a new production directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Daniel Barenboim. On the concert stage, Rolando Villazón shares the podium with Cecila Bartoli on a European tour, with concerts in Zurich, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Paris and Luxemburg. He also performs Alessandro in Mozart’s Il re pastore in concert performances in Vienna, Barcelona, Lucerne and Paris, conducted by William Christie.
Born in Mexico City, he began his musical studies at the National Conservatory of Music before entering young artist programmes in Pittsburgh and at San Francisco Opera. A recipient of many prestigious awards, Rolando Villazón has been named a Chévalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the highest awards in the fields of arts and literature in France. Rolando Villazón acts as ambassador for the Red Noses Clown Doctors International charity. He is a member of the Collège de Pataphysique Paris.