“How is he? How is his voice?”
“How was it?”
“Do you still like him singing?”
I keep hearing these questions from everyone, every single day since I attended Rolando Villazón’s concert in Paris last week.
The health issues that have plagued Rolando Villazón and his voice are very well-known around the world and they have been publicized throughout. And it obviously affected his career, though probably not as much as his cancellations. There’s no reason to make a secret of the fact — his voice is not what it was before. It doesn’t have the same volume or the same color.
It has changed.
But craving entertainment, we often draw unreasonable conclusions about those who don’t give it to us. Once rejected, the audience likes to bury singers alive. But if we take it easy, there are some points about tenor’s career that are worth highlights.
First off, the most important point is that everything is changing, and it’s okay. The second important is that Rolando Villazón and his art are something way bigger than just a voice. The third and most important — his voice is fine.
Now that We’ve Addressed That…
Well, let’s go back to the piano concert, which was held on the 14th of May at Salle Gaveau in Paris.
The selection of Spanish and Latin American songs was presented in six blocks of two acts; all different, complex and absolutely not easy to sing, those songs require extremely wide vocal diapason and exceptional vocal skill.
Rolando Villazón appeared wearing his black suit and a shy smile, welcoming the audience modestly as if apologizing for postponing the concert. But we know what a great actor he is.
He started with multicolored Spanish part, contained song cycles by De Falla, Obradors, and Mompou.
With rhapsodic rhythm, legato on high notes and very low pianissimo — De Falla set a high price for sensuality and emotion of his songs, and Villazón managed it effortlessly.
Mompou was another game. His songs reminded me of Russian romances — deep, dark, and ponderous. The hall was filled by the high volume of tenor’s voice.
Obradors was a peak of the first part. This block consisted of songs for all tastes: lyric, heroic, romantic, and some sacred topics like Mother. All those melodies were a perfect exercise in vocal performance.
The outstanding artistry colored the show no less than singing. He was crying, laughing, attacking, and praying. He was performing with the entire body. And he was making some jokes for sure.
Every block contained a few short songs, and some of them were extending into the next one, the others weren’t. And the audience was a little bit confused if they need to clap after every song or not. Noticing the confusion, tenor told a short story of Mozart, who reached great popularity in Paris and got extremely long performances until late night. And believe me, from his mouth it sounded much funnier.
So we all agreed on clapping at the end of each cycle. But it was impossible to keep silent after some extremely emotional pieces.
The second part was dedicated to South American composers. And that was a special pleasure to feel this slight difference in accents only native-speaking singer could express.
His interpretations remain brilliant. This is that very rare case when you can see the personality of a singer behind every song, but it blends with the source so naturally, making the result better even better. And behind these interpretations, a great experience, knowledge and true emotion remain. And you can not imitate it.
The concert ended with three encores, which the audience received with great enthusiasm; they even joined the tenor in singing the famous “Cielito Lindo.”
Whatever happened with the voice, whatever we expect and discuss regarding Rolando Villazón, I have more confidence in his future than in some others who still sing in full voice. He confidently follows his path and it is clear that he now knows his voice, and treats it well. His knows his strength and he uses it. He is still developing his career and discovering new possibilities because there are not so many people who know and can do as much as he can. And he acts like no one else because, it seems to me, he can’t not act. And he sings because he really loves to sing.
After the concert in Paris this week, I can state a fact: Rolando Villazón is completely fine, and he can easily please you with his art. After all, this is exactly what art exists for.
This review was written for operawire.com. You can read it here.