Rolando Villazón turns 45 on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
The Mexican tenor has managed a strong career over the past decade, conquering numerous struggles and paving new ways that have allowed him to remain at the forefront of opera’s diversification and development. He has reshaped his repertoire to suit his vocal and dramatic abilities, but today we recognize him for the things he has done outside of singing and acting that have made him such a unique figure in the opera world.
Villazón’s acting abilities have been one of his major assets in his career and it is no surprise that at some point the intellectual thinker would set his sights on directing.
He kicked that career off in 2011 when he created a new production of “Werther” for the Opera de Lyon. From there he has moved into a vaster repertoire, taking on Puccini’s “La Rondine,” Donizetti’s “Viva la Mamma” and Verdi’s “La Traviata.” His next assignment is “Don Pasquale” in Dusseldorf.
The Mexican wrote the 2013 novel “Malabares,” which narrates the story of a clown who suffers an injury and rediscovers a story he had been writing about an alter-ego clown, who is adored by the public but is also going through his own rough patch in his career.
Villazón is also a terrific cartoonist that draws and animates his own work. Many of his illustrations are subversions of opera’s famous works. You can check some of them out on his website.
The TV Host
Villazón stunned the world when he announced that he would be a judge and mentor on the the TV show “Pop Star to Opera Star” in 2010 and 2011. He followed that up with his own TV series “Stars von morgen.”
With the refugee crisis that the forefront of international issues, the tenor took to fundraising for the United Nations Refugee Agency, raising over $13,000 to help and protect refugees around the world.