Monday, October 26, 2009

Rolando Villazon (1972-present)

Mexican tenor. Mexican tenor. At the age of eleven he joined the Espacios Academy for the Performing Arts, where he studied music, acting, contemporary dance and ballet. In 1990 he began to study singing with the baritone Arturo Nieto and in 1992 entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, Mexico City, to continue his vocal studies with Enrique Jaso. After winning national competitions in Mexico City and Guanajuato, Villazón became a pupil of Gabriel Mijares. For a time he had considered going into the priesthood. But in 1998, he joined the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, where he took part in masterclasses with Joan Sutherland and sang his first major role, Alfredo in La traviata. He subsequently became a member of the Pittsburgh Opera’s Young Artists Program.
Villazón’s European début, as Des Grieux (Manon) in Genoa in 1999, launched his international career. He has been equally acclaimed in Italian roles such as Alfredo, Nemorino, the Duke in Rigoletto and Don Carlos (which he sang for his Nederlandse Opera début in 2004) and Rodolfo (the role of his 2003 Glyndebourne début), and in nineteenth-century French roles, including Roméo, Faust (which he first sang at the Opéra Bastille in 2003) and Don José. His triumphant débuts at Covent Garden (as a charismatic, athletic Hoffmann) and the Metropolitan Opera (as Alfredo), both in 2004, prompted some critics to hail him as ‘the next Domingo’; and though less powerful, his voice has something of the Spaniard’s baritonal depth and fine balance of honey and metal, allied to free, ringing top notes. Villazón is also a discerning musician, with a care for refined dynamic shading and shapely legato phrasing, as can be heard on his widely praised recordings of French and Italian arias.

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