‘... he's simply Villazón: with his trademark exuberance, ringing tenor, and frightening ability to act a part.' The Times
Rolando Villazon was raised in Fuentes de Satellite, a suburban area of Greater Mexico City, Mexico. In an interview for Mexican television, Villazon 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 where 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 and 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 August 2005, he sang a highly regarded Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Carlo Rizzi and directed by Willy Decker, with Anna Netrebko, his frequent singing partner, as Violetta Valery.
In 2006, Villazon performed with Anna Netrebko at the ‘Petroushka Ball' hosted by the Russian Children's Welfare Society in New York.