Rolando Villazón Mauleón (born February 22, 1972) is a French/Mexican tenor. He now lives in France, and in
2007 he became a French citizen.
Villazón has published several books,including the novels Malabares and Paladas de sombra contra la
oscuridad which have been translated into French and German. He is a member of the Collège de
'Pataphysique in Paris.
He was raised in , 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; it was there that Villazón fell in love with
He came to international attention in 1999 when he won second prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition
(losing to Bulgarian bass Orlin Anastassov), as well as the first Zarzuela prize. The same year he sang for the first
time in Italy as des Grieux in Manon at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In 2000 he appeared for the first time at
the Berlin State Opera, as Macduff in Macbeth. Over the years he has presented many of his best roles there,
among them José in Carmen and des Grieux in Manon..
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. Co-starring was Anna Netrebko as Violetta. They also appeared together
in a performance of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Vienna State Opera which was released on DVD.
In 2007, Villazón switched his recording company and 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 album Viva Villazón (Virgin Classics) was released in September 2007. In
early 2010 he was a mentor and judge in the ITV show Popstar to Operastar.[
In 2007, Villazón cancelled many of his scheduled engagements in order to diagnose and remedy a persistent
vocal issue. In May 2009, Rolando Villazón announced that he had to undergo surgery in order to remove a
congenital cyst in one of his vocal cords.
After completing his rehabilitation, he returned to the stage in March 2010 singing Nemorino in L'elisir
d'amore at the Vienna State Opera in March 2010, and then embarked on a series of recitals. He made his
debut as a stage director with a new production of Werther at the Opéra de Lyon in January 2011. In
December 2012, he appeared as Rodolfo in La bohème at London's Royal Opera House, a role he first sang
there in 2005.
In recent years, Villazon has undertaken a number of Mozart tenor roles both in concert and in operatic
performances, notably Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Festspiel Baden-Baden, the role of
Alessandro in Mozart's Il re pastore under William Christie at Zürich Opera House. His first all-Mozart solo album
featuring the composer's concert arias for tenor was released in January 2014.
“In the previously yawning gap in the entertainment industry for an opera singer who can sing arias and clown like Buster Keaton steps Rolando Villazon. (…) (Villazon’s) brand of chilled-out entertainment is hard to resist.”