Rolando Villazón - tenor
Rolando Villazón was born in Mexico City in 1972. At the tender age of eleven he joined the Espacious Academy of Performing Arts and shone as a multi-talented artist, excelling in music, acting, contemporary dance and ballet. However, it was in 1990 that the direction of his career became clear, when he met the baritone, Arturo Nieto, who introduced him to the world of opera and subsequently became his voice teacher. With such inspiration, Villazón's natural talent flourished at a phenomenal rate, and after only two years he entered the National Conservatory of Music to continue his vocal preparation with Enriqu Jaso. After winning two national competitions in Mexcio City and Guanajuato, Villazón became a student of the notable baritone, Gabriel Mijares, with whom he continued his studies before launching his international career.
In 1998, he entered the San Francisco Opera's prestigious Merola Opera Program, where he participated in master classes with Joan Sutherland, and performed the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. This outstanding performance led to him becoming a member of the Pittsburgh Opera's Young Artists Program, appearing in productions of I Capuleti e Montecchi, Lucia Lammermoor and Samuel Barber's Vanessa. Thus, it will come as no surprise to learn that in 1999, Mr Villazón won Prize of the Public, the Zarzuela Prize and second prize overall in Placido Domingo's Operalia competition.
After making his successful European debut as Des Grieux in Manon in Genoa in 1999, he has continued to be in high demand, astonishing audiences across America and Europe with his stunning performances at the following venues: Hamburg State Opera, Lyon Opera, Rome Opera, Bregnez Festival, Antibes Festival, Munich State Opera, Berlin Deutsche Oper and Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Festival, Paris Bastille Opéra, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Brussels La Monnaie, Los Angeles Opera, Orange Festival and NY City Opera. It was perhaps during last season, which began with his Metropolitan Opera debut in La Traviata opposite Renée Fleming, that Villazón has achieved the highest critical acclaim and enthusiastic public recognition. This was followed by his breathtaking role debut in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, which was greeted with one of the biggest ovations Covent Garden has ever witnessed. In this same season he made his sensational debut in Amsterdam in a new production of Don Carlo.
His first solo recording was released by Virgin Classics in early 2004, featuring awe-inspiring Italian arias from works by Donizetti to Cilea. His second disc of Gounod/Massenet arias reached the top position on the classical music charts in Europe and the US. It also earned him his first well-deserved Gramophone Awards for Recital Disc of the Year.