Samstag, 21. März 2009

Translation of the "SZ" interview

Page 1

"I like the psychoanalysis"

How long will he sing this note ? Rolando Villazón talks about exhaustion, male display and the music's soul.

Paris swanks a bit today: The sun is shining, as the spring broke-out already. Rolando Villazón wears a black pair of jeans and a purple coloured t-shirt, which design accords in funny way with the hotel suite's brocade paperhangings. Firmer handshake, kind smile. You sit down, a moment silence, yes - but than certainly starts it: Beeing in converstation with Rolando Villazón, is like somebody had poured out a box of bouncing balls and shouted : "Catch !" Villazón jumps, flourishs, sings. Only at questions about his timeout he's getting calmer.

SZ: Mister Villazón, I want to talk with you about your soul.

Rolando Villazón: The soul, yes, all right. My soul ?

SZ: Which else ! You are named to have to say many things about - four times a week you are talking with your psychoanalyst in Mexico.

Villazón: And this since fourteen years. My god !

SZ: What...

Villazón: ...One second: What is the difference between a psychoanalyst and a vampire ?

SZ: No idea ?

Villazón: The vampire let goes anytime !

SZ: Cause you decided for this form of therapy, you have obviously never had the wish, to be released quickly.

Villazón: No. Than I would have likely done a behaviour therapy, where it is solution oriented way and accordingly faster. But I love playing chess, I read books, I love to sing operas, I like the psychoanalysis. I like things, which need time. You have to accept, that this long way is the actual adventure. Otherwise you never pull out of it, what I'm pulling out of it at the moment.

SZ: And what is this ?

Villazón: Not needing to ask yourself: Which strange, subliminal mastery did decide at the moment for me ? The psychoanalyst helps you, to get to know your ghosts. Without valueting. This is a big adventure, a fantastic one...

SZ: ...but one which not everybody takes. What did you bring to the analysis ?

Villazón: My wife.

SZ: She found it necessary ?

Villazón: When I said: Let us marry ! answered she: Yes ! But you go to the analyst. At that time we were a couple for seven years. She was 15, and I was 16, when we fell in love with each other.

Read on the next page, what Villazón's wife thinks of him.

Page 2

Gushing out energy

SZ: And why exactly have you should went to the analysis

Villazón: My wife found me chaotic. "Bring all this energy which glushs out of you together", said she, "make something out of it, don't let it just blow out".

SZ: And you agreed immediately ?

Villazón: What ? No ! I protested: I however do have no problems ! What are you talking about ? No, really, I don't do this ! She didn't react at all on it. Anytime I found myself after all at the analysis. And he really changed my life.

SZ: You said one time, your voice is your soul. What did you mean with this ?

Villazón: I can only explain it like this: I can understand a lot, what bothers my soul, if I hear myself.

SZ: You are considered as one of the best tenors in the world for years, were celebrated of the audience and the feuilleton. Then, in the year 2007, your singing voice felt suddenly bad. What did your soul tell you at that time ?

Villazón: That I was exhausted.

SZ: Too less sleep ? Too many sorrows ? Burn-out with 35 years ?

Villazón: Since then everything flyed to me at a wonderful, inculpable way. But I reacted more and more as I acted. Like a child, which is asked: Hey, can you catch this ball ? And dribbling him and then pitch it immediately, cause then the next is coming already ? The child gives everything, with full engery, but at the end of the day feels it suddenly at a single blow: Now I can not anymore ! So felt I after ten years career. So I allowed myself a timeout.

SZ: You said good-bye with the words: "I will back out for a few months, for getting back the whole vigour, which the audience and also I personally is used to of me." Did you worry a lot at that time ?

Villazón: No, I always knew, that I was far away, from never be able to sing again. But in retrospect I sometimes ask myself, if I have been too open, to admit my exhaustion at that time. Since then are especially reviewers fast in asking the question: "Oh, is it over ?"

SZ: And what do you counter them ?

Villazón: For me is this phase terminated, and I want willingly looking ahead.

Read on the next page, which signals Villazón gets of the people.

Page 3

Energy of hundreds of viewers

SZ: You said once after, your timeout was fantastic. So how did you spend your time ?

Villazón: Probably much less spectacular, then some thinks. I savoured the time with my family, my wife and my to sons.

SZ: But also after your comeback, doubts raised again, if you have your full vigour back. At last beginnings 2009, when you performed next to Anna Netrebko in "Lucia di Lammermoor" at the New York's Met.

Villazón: I had a cold.

SZ: "With husky voice and failed high notes struggled he in a rough and ready manner through", wrote the reviewers at that time. Quite so ?

Villazón: In retrospect it would have been perhaps better, if I had cancelled my performance. But at this evening I decided: I manage this despite ! At the beginning sang I without problems. Then my voice cracked cause of the cold. It happened in a scene without music. So there were these eight seconds of silence... - by the way probably one the greatest moments of my career.

SZ: Just this ?

Villazón: I felt the energy of hundres of viewers. Positive energy ! I have never felt such a signal of the audience if something goes wrong on the stage, before.

SZ: Which signals do the people send you otherwise ?

Villazón: Well, the bulk of the viewers don't wait for a mistake. They are at the opera cause of other reasons. It's turning them about the emotional experience, be pulled into another world by the events. In short, they are coming cause of the art. Deciding is, that you are giving your whole heart into your stage play and captivate the people so.

SZ: And why goes the other part of the audience at the opera ?

Villazón: Cause of the competitive sports. These people are carring especially about questions like: How long will he sing this note ? But I am not on the stage, for exercising competitive sports. I make art.

SZ: Don't do the critics at your voice browbeat you much ?

Villazón: You have to disrobe, even if it's not always easy. So I think, everything is said now to this topic.

Read following, if Villazón is angry about the reviews.

Page 4

Why of all Händel ?

SZ: You have just now recorded an album with arias of Georg Friedrich Händel.

Villazón: And prompt told me a reviewer: "But you don't have a baroque voice !"

SZ: Ah, already again such a reviewer. Did it make you angry ?

Villazón: I found it very astonishing and contered: Wow, so you heart a baroque voice at that time ? No kidding: Do we know for which voices Händel had wrote ? Our idea of baroque voices is orientating on the first recordings of the 20th century. Nothing else.

SZ: Why did you choose Händel of all ?

Villazón: In the year 2000 heard I a Vivaldi album with Cecilia Bartoli and was thrilled. So came I to the baroque music. I thought, it must give you such an energy to sing this music, she has such an special joyance. My soul jumped up and down ! At that time I thought however that I personally will never sing such reptertoire.

SZ: Why not ?

Villazón: They say, if you're a baroque tenor you should better keep your hands off Verdi. And if you are, like me, natural at home in the 19th and 20th century repertoire, you really better keep your hands off the baroque.

SZ: What did you make changing your mind ?

Villazón: 2006 convinced my the pianist Emmanuelle Haïm to record Monteverdi's "Combattimento" together. "If Monteverdi or Händel would live today, they would write for you", said she. So I sang Monteverdi, and it was one the most extraordinary experiences of my life. After I didn't want anymore. So came I to Händel's arias.

SZ: A composer you was obviously not carring very much about his artists' soul life...

Villazón: How do you mean that ?

SZ: He impended once the soprano Francesca Cuzzoni, to defenestrate her, because she didn't want to sing the performance aria in "Ottone".

Villazón: Well, genius' have often difficulties to understand the requirements and borders of others.

SZ: But that sound very harsh for a representative of the fine arts.

Villazón: Probably for Händel counted only: What he heard in his head, was, as the heaven would play. So I can imagine the composer, who says: I put this of the heaven for you, wrote these notes for your voice. They have to be exactly like this ! So don't make a long discussion about it, but sing !

Read on the next page, why Villazón's singing teacher was discontent with him.

Page 5

"I didn't feel anything !"

SZ: What was the most drastic methode, with which a stage director have ever tried to twist your arm ?

Villazón: I sang an aria out of "Lucia di Lammermoor" for my second singing teacher. I was technicaly very well prepared, accordingly proud of myself. When I had finished, he grabed me by the scruff of the neck and shouted: "I didn't feel anything ! You had indeed sound your voice beautiful, but you only sang the notes from the paper. Sing it kindly with all your heart !" Another time he even slapped me.

SZ: What ? And you didn't feel hit in your reputation ?

Villazón: Contrariwise ! Encouraged. Okay, of course I felt a little bit hurt, but he was right. Only like this I began to feel the play. And this is what it's all about.

SZ: It seems to go on quite often rude in your circles.

Villazón: What do you advert to ?

SZ: To another Händel anecdote: At his opera "Alessandro'" wrote he similar important roles for two prima donnas. The two ladies competed first only with their voices, but then they lashed out. How do you feel next to other strong voices ?

Villazón: There are colleagues, who feel most comfortable, if they are surrounded by less good singers, so that their own voice jut out. This is not my model. It only makes, that the power is not there. The better the others are, the merrier is the whole performance, me including.

SZ: Plácido Domingo, Boss of the opera houses in Washington DC and Los Angeles, is said to be one the best and most versatile tenors nowadays. He was lavished with laud and tributes - and you are compared with him...

Villazón: I personally would never compare me with him. Domingo is already now, in the lifetime, a legend.

SZ: Singing with him...

Villazón: ...was inspiring. No second long a competition ! He is like an artistic father for me. Really Domingo is over all.

SZ: Which opera did change your soul ?

Villazón: "Tosca". It was the first opera, which I saw on stage. And "Pagliacci" of Ruggiero Leoncavallo - even with Plácido Domingo at the New York's Met. I was overwhelmed by the intensity with which he acted. After I knew: Driving people into a so completely different world and bring about, what I felt just - I wanted exactely this, too.

Read on the next page, which is embarrassing for Villazón.

Page 6

Impressing is his manner

SZ: Have you ever tried to enter a woman's heart by singing ?

Villazón: Of course, my wifes' one ! As a 16 year old appeared I at 3 o'clock in the morning in front of her window and sang - with a mexican Mariachi-ensemble behind my back !

SZ: No kidding ? Is it prevailing in your home, to impress woman ?

Villazón: It was my manner ! And she worked. Also here in Paris I sing now still for her.

SZ: Did you actually had any embarrassing moments on stage ?

Villazón: There are several. Once my pair of trousers dragged during "Les Contes d'Hoffmann". Beneath I wore a red boxershort with a design insisting of little robots. Super-duper, in combination with an historical costume ! Another time, I don't know anymore, in which opera it was, anyway there was a scene were my antagonist had to keep me. We felt inadverent to the ground. The audience was already giggling. We pulled ourselves together again, I tried to pull out my swort...

SZ: It seems to be a dramatical scene ?

Villazón: I should actually be one ! But anyway the swort was deformed, and I didn't get out of the casing. I pulled and pulled. Finally riped into my rival without swort. The swort meanwhile was so distorted, that it stood heavy behind my back. With my coat, who hang over it, looked I like a strange animal with a long tail. The others on stage couldn't stop laughing. The audience kept their belly cause of laughing.

SZ: What about you ?

Villazón: I noticed at last, what was going on.

SZ: Last question: Do your wife actually find you today, after 14 years of analysis less chaotic ?

Villazón: She would probably say, that I'm as much chaotic as on the first day - but that I can now deal much better with it.

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