LSM Newswire

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rolando Villazón's Handel on Deutsche Grammophon 3/31

Rolando Villazón and Handel Make a Surprising Musical Coupling in a New Deutsche Grammophon Release In Stores March 31st

Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players Join Villazón for Idiomatic and Passionate Music-Making

Rolando Villazón has…stepped into the operatic spotlight with a vengeance: an exuberantly brilliant, youthful, agile, all-around lyric tenor who defies the canard about tenors’ intelligence, who can genuinely act and who outstrips his rivals with a maverick breadth of repertory from Monteverdi to Puccini." New York Times

NEW YORK, NY – March 30, 2009 – On March 31st, 2009, Deutsche Grammophon will release the second studio recording from Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón. Paul McCreesh – a Gramophone Award winner for his previous Handel recordings – and the Gabrieli Players energize this all Italian Handel aria program. This recording follows the tremendous worldwide success of Villazón’s 2008 Deutsche Grammophon debut, Cielo e Mar, and spotlights a dramatically different side of this versatile and winning singer.

For those who associate Rolando Villazón with the lyric tenor heroes of 19th-century operas, the notion of him singing Handel may come as a bit of a shock. “I was in Paris, at the start of my career,” he explains, “and I bought a CD of Cecilia Bartoli singing Vivaldi. I became obsessed by it. Ever since then I have sought out recordings of Baroque music. And I dreamed of singing it myself.”

His chance came when he met the conductor and harpsichordist Emmanuelle Haïm. She persuaded him to make a CD of Monteverdi. “And I must say that it was one of the most spiritually fulfilling experiences of my career. Another door opened in my inner life.” Having convinced himself that he could sing Baroque arias, Villazón’s next venture into that repertoire seemed obvious. With the 250th anniversary of George Frideric Handel’s death on the horizon, he made the bold choice to record some of the greatest arias from Handel’s opere serie. Until he made this recording he had sung barely a note of Handel in public.

What Villazón wanted to do was engage fully – musically, stylistically and philosophically – with the world of period-instrument Baroque performance which is why Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Players – who are at the forefront of Britain’s period-instrument movement was engaged to work on the project.

“In a sense this marks the coming-of-age of the Baroque music revival,” the conductor says. “Even great Romantic tenors want to sing it now! Of course, the convention is for lighter voices to do this repertoire. But once I had some preliminary rehearsals with Rolando, I realized that he has a fantastic instrument for Baroque music.”

Rolando Villazón’s Handel album is released as he makes his return to the American opera stage for the first time in two seasons. In January and February, he appeared as Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Anna Netrebko at the Metropolitan Opera. Villazón returns to the Met on April 8th to showcase his comic prowess as Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore also by Donizetti.

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