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 and the Duke in Rigoletto. 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.
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. Further acclaimed European festival appearances include Bregenz, Glyndebourne and Orange.
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 Eugen Onegin as well as one of his signature roles Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore. 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, the title role in a new production of Don Carlo and the title role in Massenet's Werther, both led by Sir Antonio Pappano. 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. In 2011 he made his role-debut as Don Ottavio with the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, followed by his role-debut as Ferrando in Così fan tutte, also in Baden-Baden, in 2012.
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.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.
An acclaimed and popular concert artist and recitalist, Rolando Villazón has appeared with leading orchestras and conductors on concert stages all over the world, including appearances at the Salzburg Festival and 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 as well as sold-out concerts in amongst others New York, Miami, Vancouver, Tokyo, Toulouse, Monte Carlo, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Prague, Zurich, Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Madrid, and Copenhagen. 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. 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.
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 Lamenticonducted 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 a complete recording of Don Giovanni as the first installment of a multi-part Mozart cycle conceived by the tenor and conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguin and a recording of arias by Giuseppe Verdi, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, slated for release in autumn of 2012.
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 scheduled for a TV broadcast in December 2012, he also sang the part of Nemorino.
Rolando Villazón has been profiled in numerous international newspapers and magazines and featured on television shows such Germany's Wetten, dass..? and Musical Showstar; documentaries on and featuring 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 other stations, and has his own series ‘Stars von morgen' on Arte, televised in France and Germany. 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.
Rolando Villazón begins the 2012-13 season with concerts at the Musikfest Bremen and the Klara Festival in Brussels, followed by performances of Verdi's Requiem, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in Philadelphia and at New York's Carnegie Hall. The tenor can also be heard in three concerts with the Staatskapelle Berlin under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, performing songs by Giuseppe Verdi in an orchestration by Luciano Berio, Mozart's Requiem and a world premiere of songs by Elliot Carter. He also returns to Vienna's Musikverein for concerts led by Fabio Luisi, and can be heard in recitals in Munich and at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. To mark the 200th anniversary of the composer's birthday, Rolando Villazón embarks on a mutli-city European tour, with a programme of songs and arias by Giuseppe Verdi. On the operatic stage, Rolando Villazón will perform Rodolfo with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Nemorino with the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Alfredo with the Vienna State Opera. During the Salzburg Mozart Week he makes his role debut as Mozart's Lucio Silla, in a new production led by Mark Minkowski.
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.