Monday, 25 February 2008

Rolando Villazon speaks about his absence, his vocal crisis and his plans for the future including no heavy roles and fewer performances

An interview with Rolando Villazon in the March edition of the German opera magazine Opernglas (my translation):

Ursula Ehrensberger from Opernglas met the singer in Berlin.

Mr. Villazón, we have missed you! Where were you in recent months?

Rolando Villazón: I was at home and also on an island, with my family, but also with my books. I also missed the stage, but I wanted to recover my inner strength, to load the inner volcano again to be able to give hundredandfifty percent without suffering.

Did you have, to use a modern word, a "burnout"?

Rolando Villazón: Maybe you could call it that, although I personally do not use this word. I have always said, that I myself do not set the limits in what I am doing; borders will emerge by themselves. And so it was: There was suddenly a limit, I couldn´t meld in with the rhythm of my performances, didn´t have the usual intensity, but I was at a point where it was physically not going forward. The voice is very wise, and it said, "Either you listen, or I will never work." At first I tried with a break of five weeks, as the doctors had advised me, but when I came back, nothing was improved. And so I decided to make not only a break of five weeks, but about five months. I know that it was quite risky, doing what I have done. The biggest step was to accept that I needed a break. But when I had done it, it was wonderful to step down from the mountain and analyze it from the distance, to detect the dangers and risks on that mountain, so they are not repeated in the future. Something similar may happen to anyone. And if there's something interesting in all this, it is not because I am a famous opera singer, but because I am a human being.

Was the danger for you maybe exceptionally high because you are so intense in all that you are doing ?

Rolando Villazón: That will remain, I promise you! Even though the price may be a shorter career. In recent months, I had plenty of time to read, which is one of my favourite hobbies, and I have read the letters of Seneca. One said: "Do not be afraid of difficult times, because they may never come." That is why you shouldn´t worry, but enjoy the present. What do you win? Time. And when the desperate moments then come, you will just have to suffer. It belongs to every life. But we should not stop doing the things that are important. I try every time I go on stage, to sing as if it was the most important performance of my life, the first and the last, both in one. That will not change: I want to "die" on the stage. What will change is the rhythm, with which I perform. The time between the performances need to be longer.

In what direction do you want to go now? It has been the impression that your voice has become heavier and more dramatic.

Rolando Villazón: One of the changes will also include to distance myself from my dreams of singing heavier roles, at least for now. Previously, I have always said: "I will sing Otello, even if it is the last thing I do." Now I sing Werther, Roméo, Rodolfo, Alfredo - and it should stay that way. And I am considering to add some baroque roles. I would also tend to go in the other, lighter direction, and further develop the softness of the voice. If the voice itself moves in a certain direction, it is okay, but I will not push. I was scheduled to sing Cavaradossi in a large new "Tosca" production at the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden. But I had decided to abstain from it and then discussed it with Maestro Barenboim. He agreed and suggested to me to sing Lenski in the new "Eugen Onegin" production in the autumn of 2008, which more ideally fits my voice. I immediately agreed with enthusiasm.

Full interview in German here

9 comments:

kishnevi said...

"And I am considering to add some baroque roles."
coincidentally, I read this just after putting on the Monteverdi CD he did in collaboration with Emmanuelle Haim ("Combattimento").
It's a recording I like, and I think if he does follow through on that comment, we'll have much good music to enjoy.

Gert said...

I wonder where that decision to stay with lighter roles leaves his Don Carlos at ROH in June?

mostly opera... said...

I wondered that myself...Btw got e-mail from Teatro Real that booking for Tamerlano opens at 10 am (Madrid time) tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

I've just heard from a friend that RV sings in Verdi's Requiem in Berlin tonight. Daniel Barenboim conducts. Hope "Der Zeitungsleser" (Bayerische Staatsoper) will post a review of that performance one of these days.

mostly opera... said...

He does indeed. There also was a performance of the Requiem yesterday at the Berlin Philharmonie (today it´s in the Konzerthaus Berlin) with soloists Harteros, Ganasssi, Villazon, Pape conducted by Barenboim. From what I´ve heard from a friend in the audience yesterday Villazon was in good shape yesterday and the performance was over-all impressive. I´ll post more when the reviews arrive.

brooksideelaine said...

I have tickets for the Don Carlos at ROH but am not depending on Villazon appearing. I think his decision re the heavier roles is a good one. Wish Carreras had made the same decision some years ago and not listened to the siren voice of Karajan persuading him to sing Radames and other heavier roles which was on its way to wrecking his voice even before he was ill.

I must say the thought of RV doing Lensky is a wonderful one. EO is one of my favourite operas

Bogplukkerne said...

Thanks for the resumé of the interview. It's great to have him back and I do not hope, that he is completely serious when he states, that he will give himself as much as ever. It makes mi recall the tv-recording of his consert in Berlin with the Berliners. Oh my! He just swept us away. But seing him in the changing room in between his performances were really scaring. He was completely manic and I believe he used more energy on that concert than a marathon runner. And they do not run a marathon twice to three times a week... It just cannot last - and it didn't.

So Rolando, please take care of your energy and stay with us a little longer. It's not compromising. It's taking the singing and the life itself serious.

Britt

mostly opera... said...

I completely agree with you on the maniac issue...

Actually I am going to hear him sing a recital with Daniel Barenboim in Berlin in three weeks. I am very curious about how that´ll be..
And then there is the concert in Copenhagen in August (to which I haven´t got a ticket!) - I haven´t quite figured out if it is completely sold out or they just haven´t started selling the spare tickets yet...

Anonymous said...

A tenor who reals Seneca, that's so refreshing! Go Rolando!

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