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It's in your blood

Mexican tenor
Rolando Villazon


It is really gratifying when someone like Rolando Villazon comes up to you and says: 'I know you, I read your article in Music & Vision'. This happened in Munich, just before the Echo Awards, when Villazon picked M&V as one of only two publications chosen for interviews. We met at the exclusive Palace Hotel in the Bogenhausen Neighborhood of Munich and, as can be expected, the young Mexican tenor was in a good mood on the eve of receiving the 2004 Echo Classics Award for his début CD Italian Opera Arias (Virgin/EMI 545 626-2) that became a classical charts hit almost as soon as it was released.

Tess Crebbin: So, how does it feel to get the Echo?

Rolando Villazon: Very exciting. I am very honoured to receive this important award and to be here with my colleagues from the classical music scene. It is especially wonderful that all of this happens in Germany. Germany was one of the countries that I came to sing in first, so I am very happy to be recognized here.

TC: How did you find out that you were going to get the award?

RV: Through my agent and the people at Virgin Classics. They started calling and emailing and saying 'it is time to open a bottle, you got a prize'. So I did.

Rolando Villazon and his Echo award. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin
Rolando Villazon and his Echo award. Photo © 2004 Phil Crebbin

TC: Was this something you expected to happen? Your début CD was enormously successful so it was clear that prizes were going to follow ...

RV: Let's say I was cautiously optimistic. I was very happy at first when I recorded the CD and listened to it. But then happened what tends to happen to all singers, that I became critical about it, thinking I should have done it this way or that. But the truth is that I was very proud of my first CD. So, on one side, I thought it might be very well received but on the other, I did not want to get my expectations up too high. But then things started happening, all the right kind of things: it was editor's choice here, got picked as CD of the month there, became a spotlight CD in your own publication. But it was still a wonderful surprise when the call came that it had been chosen to receive an Echo. It is something really special to me. Was I waiting for it? Let's just say that I was, and still am, really enjoying the good time I had with that CD and all the good things that are happening in my life and my career. Life smiles at me and I smile back at life.

TC: You did not exactly have a straight career path. You wanted to become a priest, a history teacher, an actor and even a dancer. Your wife was a driving force behind your career as a tenor.

RV: True. When I was young, I wanted to become a priest. At age nineteen, I even spent some time in a mission, living with the Indios. In the end, they taught me more than I could ever teach them. I was convinced that I had the calling for priesthood but my wife recognized early on, long before we were married, that this was not my path in life after all. My other great dream was to be an opera singer and there was a period of indecision in my life during which my wife, who is a wonderful woman, has been my force and my strength just like she is now. I was just in Mexico some weeks ago and we were watching a video I did when I just started out. I was 23 or 24 and I looked at this and said: 'My God, this is horrible'. So I asked her: 'How could you have faith in me?' But she just knew all along that I could make it.

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Copyright © 7 November 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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