Rolando Villazón Profile Photo

Rolando Villazón

Rolando Villazón is among the most versatile artists alive today, maintaining successful careers as a stage director, novelist, and TV personality next to his on-stage career. His singularly beautiful voice and arresting stage presence have prompted critics to hail him as “better than ever before…the sound of his voice is phenomenal…few tenors of such vocal power can shape such pianissimi” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) and “his artistry as astonishing as ever, fusing sound, sense and gesture in an uncompromising quest for veracity” (The Guardian).

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  • 25.03.2016 - Voix des Arts reviews 'Messiah' recording featuring Rolando Villazón

  • "The opening bars of the recitative ‘Comfort Ye My People’ reveal Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón to be in fine voice. The surprising fluency in florid writing evident in his previous recordings of Monteverdi, Händel, and Mozart works is even more prominent in his singing here. Villazón’s stylish ornamentation encompasses a genuine trill, and he mostly eschews operatic posturing, instead phrasing with intelligence and straightforward eloquence. His English is accented but clear; far more intelligible, in fact, than the diction of a number of native English speakers who have recorded Messiah. Villazón dispatches the divisions in ‘Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted’ with aptly exultant ease. The sequence of anguished utterances for the tenor in Part Two receives from this tenor a performance of touching simplicity, the drama extracted from rather than imposed upon the music. The stinging bitterness of ‘All They That See Him, Laugh Him to Scorn’ and ‘Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart’ is all the more visceral for the music being sung with such beauty, and Villazón voices the deceptively lilting ‘Behold, and See If There Be Any Sorrow’ as enthrallingly as any tenor who has recorded it, recalling both Jon Vickers’s power and the reedy brilliance of Philip Langridge.

    The halting uncertainty of his singing of ‘He Was Cut Off out of the Land of the Living’ suggests an inner struggle to express sentiments too appalling to be given voice, but the contrast with the brighter, almost cathartic ’But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell’ is stirring, Villazón’s bronzed timbre glowing in the major-key sunlight. An atmosphere of anxiety permeates his readings of ‘Unto Which of the Angels Said He at Any Time’ and ‘He that Dwelleth in Heaven.’ Particularly impressive musically and dramatically is Villazón’s singing of the demanding ‘Thou Shalt Break Them,’ his voice darting through the runs and attacking the tricky intervals with the resonant strike of the rod of iron of which he sings. There is a sense of absolving vindication in his articulation of his lines in the brief duet ‘O Death, Where Is Thy Sting.’ Villazón is a gifted, unfailingly interesting singer whose work is not always conventionally appealing. There is nothing unappealing in his singing in this Messiah, and the healthy dose of Latin fervor that he injects into the performance is welcome when the instrument of its injection is such solid, satisfying singing."

    Read the entire review at Voix des Arts.

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