In an interview in Opera News Rolando Villazon says, “I would define the CD [Gounod and Massenet] as an effort to get as close as I could to the French language and style of singing, but letting my Mexican heart come through also.” Think how well this goes with my idea to find where this piece intersects with your own personal music!
I was going to argue with the spareness of his portamento, but he goes on to say, “I would not want to be a French singer—I am not a French singer. What I really want is to combine two things, to bring the fire, the temperament and freedom of Italian singing to the French, which emphasizes the pure line, clarity, cutting out some of the portamento. That is something you should not do in French music.”
Well. He’s arguing with me. He smacked me right down. I love that. I personally think it handicaps the French that the performance style is not particularly distinctive. But it’s much more important for the singers to think about what they are singing. And he does. A thinking singer—a very fine thing indeed! Not a self-cancelling phrase.