Rolando Villazón

Rolando Villazón Mauleón (born 22 February 1972) is a Mexican operatic tenor and opera director. He now lives in France, and in 2007 became a French citizen.[1][2]

Rolando Villazón
Villazón during a recital at the Teatro Real Madrid, 2014
Born (1972-02-22) 22 February 1972 (age 49)
OccupationOpera singer (tenor)
Years active1999–present

Villazón has published several books, including the novels Malabares and Paladas de sombra contra la oscuridad which have been translated into French and German.[3][4] He is a member of the Collège de 'Pataphysique in Paris.[5]

Early lifeEdit

He 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; it was there that Villazón fell in love with opera.[6]


Late 1990s and early 2000sEdit

2007 Vienna summer event

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 success in the title role of Les Contes d'Hoffmann at London's Royal Opera House. The following year he appeared as 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 the Vienna State Opera 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.[7]

Vocal surgery and the return to the stageEdit

Davy Cunningham [de] (left) and Rolando Villazón, 2017

In 2007, Villazón cancelled many of his scheduled engagements in order to diagnose and remedy a persistent vocal issue.[8][9] 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.[10]

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.[11][12] He made his debut as a stage director with a new production of Werther at the Opéra de Lyon in January 2011.[13] In December 2012, he appeared as Rodolfo in La bohème at London's Royal Opera House, a role he first sang there in 2005.[14]

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 Zürich Opera House. His first all-Mozart solo album featuring the composer's concert arias for tenor was released in January 2014.

Villazón sang "La Prima Luce" on the 2014 Yanni/Plácido Domingo/Ric Wake collaboration album Inspirato.[15]


  • Romeo y Julieta CD (2002), Radio Televisión Española
  • Der Fliegende Holländer CD (2002), Teldec Classics
  • Berlioz: La Révolution Grecque CD (2004), EMI Classics
  • Italian Opera Arias CD (2004), Virgin Classics
  • Gounod & Massenet Arias CD (2005), Virgin Classics
  • Tristan und Isolde CDs and DVD (2005), EMI Classics
  • Don Carlo 2 DVDs (2005), Opus Arte
  • La Traviata CD (2005), Deutsche Grammophon
  • Merry Christmas (Soundtrack) CD (2005), Virgin Classics
  • Opera Recital CD; bonus edition with DVD (2006), Virgin Classics
  • La Traviata DVD; premium 2-DVD edition (behind the scenes, rehearsals, introduction to the opera etc.) (2006), Salzburger Festspiele 2005, Deutsche Grammophon
  • La Bohème DVD (2006), Bregenzer Festspiele 2002, ORF + Capriccio
  • Monteverdi: Il Combattimento CD; bonus edition with DVD (2006), Virgin Classics
  • Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore DVD (2006), Virgin Classics
  • The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbühne DVD (2006), Deutsche Grammophon
  • Gitano CD; bonus edition with DVD (February 2007), Virgin Classics
  • Duets featuring Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko CD; bonus edition with DVD (March 2007), Deutsche Grammophon
  • Viva Villazón – Rolando Villazón – Best-of-CD (2007), Virgin Classics
  • La Bohème Live recording CD (two disk set) (2008), Deutsche Grammophon
  • Romeo et Juliette" 2 DVDs (Salzburger Festspiele 2008) (2009), Deutsche Grammophon
  • Georg Friedrich Händel" CD/CD+DVD,(2009) Deutsche Grammophon
  • La Bohème DVD (2009)
  • ¡México! 2010
  • Messiah CD (2016) with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
  • Le Nozze di Figaro CD (2016), Deutsche Grammophon
  • O Come Little Children (2017)


  1. ^ "Rolando Villazón". Decca Records. Archived from the original on 22 August 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. ^ Radio France, Rolando Villazón, 16 March 2009.[dead link]
  3. ^ Malabares. Grupo Planeta Spain. April 4, 2013. ISBN 978-8467028584.
  4. ^ "Catalogue: Kunststücke". Rolando Villazón. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  5. ^ "Rolando Villazón". Opéra national de Paris (in French).
  6. ^ "Rolando Villazón". Classic FM. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  7. ^ ITV. Popstar to Operastar: Mentors and critics
  8. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (September 13, 2007). "Tenor Takes Time Off, Cites Health". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Westphal, Matthew (12 September 2007). "Tenor Rolando Villazón Cancels Performances Through Year's End, Including Met, Covent Garden, Carnegie Hall". Playbill Arts.
  10. ^ Sweeting, Adam (12 January 2010). "Rolando Villazón interview". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. ^ Silverman, Mike (22 March 2010). "Big ovation as Villazón returns to opera in Vienna". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  12. ^ Morrison, Richard (5 May 2010). "Rolando Villazón at the Festival Hall, SE1". The Times. London.
  13. ^ Picard, Anna (30 January 2011). "Review: Werther, Opéra National de Lyon". The Independent. London.
  14. ^ Jeal, Erica (18 December 2012). "La Bohème – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Yanni, Inspirato: Exclusive Album Premiere". Billboard. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016.

External linksEdit