Rolando Villazon Biography

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Genres: Classical/Opera

Emilio Rolando Villazón Mauleón (born February 22, 1972), is a Mexican-born tenor who settled in France and in 2007 became a French citizen. He is of Austrian descent by his grandparents.

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, there Rolando fell in love with opera.

He came to international attention in 1999 when he won both first prizes awarded in the Operalia international competition - both for opera and Zarzuela.

The same year he sang for the first time in Italy (des Grieux in "Manon" in Genua).

In 2000 he appeared for the first time at the Staatsoper Berlin - as Macduff in ''Macbeth''. Over the years he has presented many of his best roles here, among them Jose ("Carmen") and des Grieux ("Manon").

In 2000 he sang Rodolpho ("Boheme") in Munich.

In 2002 he sang Rinuccio ("Gianni Schicchi") in Los Angeles.

In 2003 he sang "Rodolpho" at the Glyndebourne Festival in the UK. He also enjoyed a huge success as "Hoffmann" at Covent Garden, London.

In 2004 he sang Alfredo in "Traviata" at the Met.

In 2005 he bowed at St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival as Alfredo.

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 CD 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 and co-starring Anna Netrebko as Violetta. They have also appeared together in a video version of Donizetti's ''Elisir d'amore''.

In 2007, Villazón switched his recording company – he 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 latest album ''Viva Villazón'' (Virgin Classics) was released in September 2007.

After suffering from severe voice alteration during the Met Concert Gala on April 3, 2007, Villazón cancelled most (if not all) his performances starting from that date on, including his debut recital at the Carnegie Hall and ''Roméo et Juliette'' at the Metropolitan Opera, due to health problems.

His first appearance since then was at the Wiener Staatsoper in ''Werther'', but he did not make any new recordings or live broadcasts. Although his schedule for 2008–2009 was originally full, many performances were also subsequently cancelled.

In April 2009, he announced that he was putting his career on hold while he underwent throat surgery. In 2010 he was a mentor and judge in the ITV show Popstar to Operastar,