1999 European debut in Genoa (Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon)
Engagements at many European and American opera houses follow in rapid succession (including the Opéra Bastille Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper, Unter den Linden Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and Metropolitan Opera House), soon joined by appearances at the Salzburg Festival, Covent Garden, and Milan’s La Scala.
2006 first health problems, 2007 hiatus, 2008 comeback
Since 2007, exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, since 2012 the label’s “Verdi ambassador”
2009 renewed hiatus due to a vocal cord cyst, 2010 second comeback
2011 directorial debut with Massenet’s Werther at the Opéra de Lyon, also staged subsequently in Baden-Baden, Vienna, and Berlin
Active involvement in television, including as presenter of Stars von morgen, juror of Popstar to Operastar on BBC, and co-moderator of several ECHO-Klassik awards ceremonies on ZDF
2013 Malabares, first novel
Did you know?
Known as “Dr. Rollo,” Villazón has been a “red-nosed” clown doctor for years
Villazón wanted to become a priest. Or an actor: after reading Gandhi’s autobiography, he shaves his head, dons a pair of glasses and a long robe, and steps onto the street as a Gandhi look-alike.
When he is twelve years old, the director of the Mexico City Academy of Fine Arts happens to hear him singing, then invites him to take his school’s entrance exam.
Villazón reportedly wins the favor of his future wife Lucia at the age of 16, serenading her under her window at night with Mariachi songs. She has since become a psychologist and the couple have two sons.
The Mexican-born artist speaks five languages, has Austrian and French roots, and has also been a French citizen since 2007.
Thanks to his comical facial expressions and a certain resemblance, Villazón is often compared with Mr. Bean. However, his attempt to arrange a personal meeting in 2007 with Rowan Atkinson, who portrays Mr. Bean, is prevented by the actor’s management.
Villazón points out that he’s not afraid of silence, since there are moments in opera where silence is the most beautiful music.