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Rolando Villazon: the official version

The Villazon machine has been issuing clarifications of Monday’s embarrassment in Berlin. His manager Judith Neuhoff:
Rolando has been suffering from a cold for the past week and on Monday, in the first of two subscription concerts of the Staatskapelle on consecutive nights, he was still not well enough and decided not to perform the Carter as he wanted to do justice to the piece which was having its European premiere. So he only sang the two programmed Mozart concert arias and Barenboim and the Staatskapelle performed the rest of the programme - Mozart Sinfonia Concertante and Haffner Symphony, and Carter’s Concertino for bass clarinet – as planned.
For the second concert, yesterday night at the Philharmonie, Rolando recovered and was well enough, so he premiered the Carter cycle (“A Sunbeam’s Architecture”) with great success (the audience was enthusiastic) as part of the overall programme which, again, included two Mozart concert, Mozart Sinfonia Concertante and Haffner Symphony, and Carter’s Concertino for bass clarinet.
Judith Neuhoff Managing Director Universal Centre Stage Artist Management
From Rolando himself:
I love Carter’s cycle, it’s an absolutely brilliant piece by a wonderful composer and a joy to sing. I have rarely performed contemporary music so far in my career, and this has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to performing this piece many more times in the years to come, and I am very happy that it was recorded, too. It has to be heard by as many people as possible!



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  1. ..and I supppose he was well enough (despite his cold) to RECORD the Carter songs on Monday morning, which are supposed to sell worldwide………….. so much for his priorities…

  2. Daniel Farber says:

    Anyone who performs music as difficult (and worthy) as Carter’s—with a cold, without a cold, even on meds–has my vote and gets cut a lot of slack for anything else that might be objectionable.. Villazon does not HAVE to perform Carter. Quite the contrary. Do any of the current divas sing “A Mirror on Which to Dwell”? I didn’t think so. More power to Roberto!!

    • Clarissa Smid says:

      I absolutely agree. Most readers of this blog have no idea how hard it is to sing through a cold and if someone could plug into some of the experiences I’ve had getting through a cold on stage, it might shut them up about the priorities of singers!

      From a singer who currently has a cold!


      • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

        The Villazon mugging these days is unbelievable. This artist does not deserve the snark. Be well Rolando!

  3. Mike Hausgrand says:

    I don’t want to be a killjoy, but I am reminded of another famous tenor, Chris Merritt, who went from being a top belcanto tenor and after too much gambling with roles out of his reach (Verdi’s Vespri Siciliani, the tenor role in Rossini’s Tell) could just sing Wozzeck’s capitain and Moses und Aaron….The only difference is that at least Merrit had nearly twenty years of top operatic career before suddenly discovering contemporary music (i.e. turning to a repertoire where people THINK that even if you have a broken instrument no one will notice, name and character will do).
    It seems that Mr Villazon has shortened the process but is operating in the same grey area: re-inventing oneself to keep earning top money. No problem there, but let’s not play the card of doing so for a sudden and very timely love for contemporary music.

  4. Ignacio Martínez-Ybor says:

    There are colds and there are colds. I give Mr. Villazón every benefit of the doubt. If he says he is not up to performing I believe him. Like many many years ago I believed Callas when she walked out of the second act of Norma in Rome. On the other hand, one night at the Met before a performance of Norma began, the announcement was made that Mme. Caballé had a cold but nonetheless had consented to sing and begged the audience’s indulgence for any mishaps that might occur. It was one of the most ethereal, beautifully sung Normas I have ever heard in my life, austere, romantic, and rolling out beautiful tone after beautiful tone. Enthusiastic ovation at the end. If I recall, her partners for the evening were Cossotto and Carlo Cossutta. From my experience, it is less about the gravity of the malady than how it affects to sing certain notes, the further irritation to the throat singing could cause, and overall how being physically impaired damages self-confidence in performance. In this case with Villazón, a singer who has had extremely serious vocal difficulties in the recent past, but true of all singers, recitals are nerve destroyers as there is no operatic role or production in which to hide. I totally sympathize with singers.

  5. Mark Stratford says:

    As below it’s been announced that Barenboim will do a duo concert with M Argerich.

    So it’s good he’s getting in practice with no-shows (a missing Siegfried + Carter in one week) ;-)

  6. Emil Archambault says:

    But still, that means the audience paid full price for a truncated concert.

  7. I don’t understand why people are so quick to rally behind a singer so regularly in vocal (or other performance-related) trouble. Don’t you all know that there are other singers out there that sing consistently well and with few cancellations? Villazon’s illnesses and cancellations are not a problem, they are a pattern.

    • “I don’t understand why people are so quick to rally behind a singer so regularly in vocal (or other performance-related) trouble.”

      It is the human thing to do, is it not? To rally ’round someone who is working hard and attempting to become well or better? I think so. Americans especially root for individuals who are seen as attempting to overcome some level of distress. We want these people to succeed and do not appreciate someone being “kicked when they’re down.” I think it is perfectly natural.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      there might be many other singers who sing well or better, but who cares?


  8. I’m only amazed that top singers don’t miss performances more often! Travelling, as they do, from country to country, opera house to opera house, the opportunities to pick up the common cold are immense – and even people who don’t use their voice in any way, know how badly colds affect the voice and breathing capacity! It is a terrifying prospect to have to tackle hugely demanding operatic roles, having little or no control over the sounds uttered because of a cold! Rolando once said, quite accurately, that he doesn’t mind being nervous, because that is good, but he doesn’t want to be terrified! …..and believe me, attempting opera with a cold is terrifying!!

  9. James Forrest says:

    One understands frustration with artists who cancel often due to health issues. On the other hand, one has to believe that those artists are equally frustrated–it’s not a game, after all! I am amazed at the endless nasty comments about Villazon and Dessay . . . two singers who, when able to perform to their full potential, have given a great deal of pleasure, and who have demonstrated considerable artistry. Nastiness is just part of the human condition and the alleged love of beautiful music does not prevent people from expressing it.

  10. Pamela says:

    I think anyone who understands anything about singing should support a singer who has to cancel because of an indisposition or illness, particularly a cold. But the public seems to love to kick an idol when he or she is at a low. It is a matter of those who can, do, and those who can’t , jeer. Perhaps that type of audience would be happier at a football match.

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