Villazòn Sings Mozart  ̶  Concert Arias with Ease

06/05/2014

 Mozart: Rolando Villazòn, Kammerorchester Basel, Florian Donderer (concertmaster), Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin, 2.5.2014 (SH)

olando Villazon Photo (c) Monika Hoefler

Rolando Villazon Photo (c) Monika Hoefler

 

 

When tenor Rolando Villazòn sets his mind to something, he’s all but unstoppable. Villazòn is involved in a range of projects that extend above and beyond the usual schedule of a leading tenor: he hosts a television show, “Stars von morgen,” on the French-German channel ARTE; has written a novel; and performs as “Dr. Rollo” with the Red Noses Clown Doctors in children’s hospices in Germany and Austria.

He has also taken on the challenge of paying homage to one of history’s greatest composers, Mozart. In a multi-year project, the Mexican-born Villazòn is recording a cycle of seven of Mozart’s best-known operas for Deutsche Grammophon — Don Giovanni in 2011, Così fan tutte in 2013, and this summer, Die Entführung aus dem Serail. The most recent addition to the series is Mozart Concert Arias, recorded with Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra and released last fall.

Villazón brought a live version of this project to Berlin’s Philharmonie. Accompanied by an adept Kammerorchester Basel, he presented a trove of lesser-known works to a responsive Berlin audience. In true Mozartian tradition, the program included both vocal and instrumental pieces, lending variety and giving necessary respite to the singer.

After the rousing overture from the infrequently performed 1772 opera Lucio Silla, Villazòn took the stage. He warmed up with “Si mostre la sorte” from the composer’s Salzburg years before showing his full range in “Per pieta, non ricercate,” a virtuosic aria written for tenor Valentin Adamsberger in the 1780’s. In the final selection of the first half, “Misero! O Sogno o son desto?”, also written for Adamsberger, Villazòn’s supple voice made use of a broad palette of vocal coloring. It echoed through the Philharmonie with passion before shifting to touching desolation, conveyed through pianissimi as sweet as a piece of Sachertorte. The accompanying aria, “Aura che intorno spiri,” was sung with an effective mix of tenderness and vehemence — vocal eruptions of desperate ardor remained even and secure despite the high tessitura and frequent leaps, and his voice retained its characteristic soft edge when necessary.

In short, he made it sound easy which is no simple feat., and the orchestra seemed equally at ease. They played with great feeling, particularly during the Prague Symphony in the second half of the concert.

Villazòn seemed most at home in character parts such as Pulcherio in “Dove mai trovar quel ciglio?” from the long-lost opera Lo Sposo deluso, adjusting his vocal phrasing and color to suit the fervor of the buffo character. He has a natural flair for showmanship that lets the audience know he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Ironically, it was a composition written by the 9-year-old Mozart, “Va’, dal furor portata,” that seemed to weary the singer. The piece is peppered with coloratura, which seemed to take a toll, and Villazòn lost some resonance and mobility in the upper range. This became more apparent as the evening progressed and was especially audible during the final piece on the program, “Or che il dover…Tali e cotanti sono.” However, the tenor refused to indicate he was having any difficulty and simply held back a bit on the troublesome high notes.

Unsurprisingly for a charismatic opera star, Villazòn seemed to have an abundance of admirers. On my right, a woman rose to her feet, shouting enthusiastically and waving a small Mexican flag. Meanwhile, four women descended to the lip of the stage, each handing the tenor a bright pink rose; another emerged from the third row and presented him with a thick red envelope. It was all in a day’s work for Villazòn, who seems to play into the attention — an ardent fan once cut off a lock of his hair after a performance and lived to tell the tale.

As he took his bows, Villazòn seemed to have channeled his inner clown, Dr. Rollo. He shook hands with each player in the orchestra and doled out roses to select members of the audience. Brandishing a cane, Charlie Chaplain-style, he remained in comedic character during his first encore, “Con Osequuio, con respecto,” written for Salzburg performances of Niccolò Piccinni’s opera, L’astratto, ovvero Il giocator fortunate. The audience responded with great fanfare, as is likely to occur whenever he takes the stage.

Sarah Hucal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Sándor Végh Memorial Concerts 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Perform Amahl and the Night Visitors in December __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Sundays for a Fiver Festival in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre Reopens in December 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! See Pop-Up Opera’s La Tragédie de Carmen this Autumn __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! The OAE Shakes Up Concert Hall Conventions as Players and Conductors Talk from Stage __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST ANGELA HEWITT IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Montserrat Caballé (1933 – 2018): A Personal Tribute by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! Jacqui and David Morris’s New Documentary Film Nureyev Celebrates a Unique Man and Dancer __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! JACK BUCKLEY’S MEMORIES OF LINDSAY KEMP (1938-2018) __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GESUALDO SIX IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST GEORGE HARLIONO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR ALEXANDER SLADKOVSKY IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month