Rolando Villazón is internationally recognized as one of the leading lyric tenors of our day and has been acclaimed for performances at leading theatres across the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Berlin State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Opéra de Nice, Berlin State Opera, New York City Opera and many others.
Rolando Villazón was born in 1972 in Mexico City, Mexico. At the age of 11, he joined the Espacios academy for the performing arts, where he studied music, acting, contemporary dance and ballet. In 1990 Villazón met baritone Arturo Nieto who introduced him to the world of opera and became his voice teacher. Two years later, he entered the National Conservatory of Music to continue his vocal preparation with Enrique Jaso. There, he sang Dorvil from La Scala di Seta, Florville from Il Signor Bruschino, and Alessandro from Il Re Pastore. After winning two national contests in Mexico City and Guanajuato, Villazón became a student of baritone Gabriel Mijares, with whom he continued his studies before launching an international career.
In 1998 he became a member of the Pittsburgh Opera's Young Artists Program where he appeared in productions of I Capuleti Ed I Montecchi, Lucia di Lammermoor and Samuel Barber's Vanessa, the latter directed by the legendary Regina Resnik. He subsequently entered the Merola Opera Program of the San Francisco Opera where he performed the role of Alfredo in La Traviata and also participated in master classes with Joan Sutherland. Rolando Villazón won the second prize in Placido Domingo's 1999 Operalia competition as well as the first prize for Zarzuela and the Prize of the Public.
He made his European debut as Des Grieux (Manon) at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, and immediately after came his first appearance in France, appearing as Rodolfo for the Opéra de Lyon in December of 1999, the role of his subsequent debut in Rome. He made then his debut at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste in La Traviata and was then invited to replace an ailing colleague in the same work at the Opera Bastille in Paris. These performances in May 2000 brought the artist to international attention.
Among his engagements for the season 2005-06 are La Boheme at the Opéra de Paris, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda at the Opéra de Lille, Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera, his debut in the title role of Werther at the Opéra de Nice, Eugene Onegin at the Covent Garden, Elisir D'Amore in Berlin, Romeo et Juliette and Rigoletto in Vienna. He will also sing his first Verdi's Requiem at St. Denis Festival, Lucia de Lammermoor at Orange Festival and gala concerts in Tokyo, Leipzig, Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, Moscow, Paris, Toulouse, Monte Carlo, Orange among others.
Rolando Villazón has won numerous major awards. In February 2003 he received the French honour Les Victoires de la Musique in the category "Foreign Discovery of the Year". His first solo recording featuring Italian arias was awarded the ECHO Classics 2004 prize. The following year he won the same prize in the "Singer of the Year 2005" category. Along his nomination for the prestigious Gramophone "Artist of the Year" and "Record of the Year" awards, he won "Best Recital Recording 2005" as well as the annual Opernwelt magazine's "Singer of the Year" award. This second solo recording featuring French arias earned him a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Classical Vocal Performance".
Rolando Villazón can also be heard in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer under Daniel Barenboim for Teldec and in Tristan und Isolde with Placido Domingo and under Antonio Papano for EMI.