American baritone Eugene Villanueva is establishing himself as one of the most appealing talents of his generation. He has performed with many prestigious international companies & festivals throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
The San Francisco native started his professional career in 2007 at San Francisco Opera as Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. Further important engagements in the US were with Michigan Opera Theatre as Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia & Ping in Turandot, Opera Santa Barbara as Danilo in The Merry Widow, Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Schaunard in La bohème and as Escamillo in Carmen with Venture Opera NYC.
He made his European debut in 2010 at Theater Basel (Switzerland) as Albert in Werther. Since then, he has regularly returned to this theatre in diverse roles such as Conte Almavia in Le nozze di Figaro, Prince Yeletzky in The Queen of Spades, Gamekeeper in Rusalka, Lescaut in Massenet’s Manon, Oronte in Charpentier’s Médée, and in 2015 he portrayed the role of M5 in the contemporary opera Hölderlin by Peter Ruzicka. Another important debut took place in 2011 at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna in Italy, where he garnered resounding acclaim as Dandini in Daniele Abbado’s production of La Cenerentola. Further guest appearances include the role of Slook in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio at the Festival Aix-en-Provence (France), and two opera fragments by Claude Debussy, La chûte de la maison Usher and Le diable dans le beffroi, with the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester (Germany), which were recorded on CD by Pan Classics.
With the renowned Italian Festival Puccini Torre del Lago he was seen as Schaunard in La bohème and as Lieutenant Noda in Shigeaki Saegusa’s Butterfly sequel Jr. Butterfly, a role he repeated at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Orchard Hall (2016) and at the Hungarian National Theater Miskolc (2017).
In the 2017-18 season he made his debut as Marquis Posa in Don Carlo at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, where he also performed Barabashkin in Shostakovich’s operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki. He was also engaged to cover the role of Toby in Michel van der Aa’s Sunken Garden at The Dallas Opera in addition to being featured in the inaugural concert of their new recital series "Sculpting Sounds - The Dallas Opera at the Nasher."
In the 2018-19 season he returned to Staatstheater Braunschweig as Escamillo in Carmen. He also returned to The Dallas Opera to cover the role of Ford in Falstaff, presented a recital with Peter Grünberg from the San Francisco Symphony for the LiederAlive! series in San Francisco and was featured as the baritone soloist in the rarely performed Leoncavallo Requiem with the Festival Leoncavallo in Switzerland.
Upcoming performances include a return to San Francisco Opera to perform the Novice’s Friend in Billy Budd, role debut's as Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana and Tonio in I Pagliacci with the Festival Leoncavallo in Switzerland, a return to the renowned LIederAlive! recital series in San Francisco, a New Years Gala concert with the Argovia Philharmonic in Switzerland, and his debut at Seattle Opera as Schaunard in La bohème.
An avid recitalist, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2008, returning in 2011 with a program of Mahler Lieder and again in 2017 with a program of Lieder by Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf. He was a member of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, which presented him in recitals in New York and Pennsylvania, and he has also presented concerts for San Francisco Opera’s “Schwabacher Debut Recital Series”, the Ravinia Festival, LiederAlive!, Music Academy of the West and the New York Festival of Song. In Europe he was featured on the prestigious “Podium der Jungen” series in Hannover, Hamburg & Frankfurt (Germany), and recently presented a song recital with works of Francesco Paolo Tosti under the auspices of the Festival Leoncavallo in Brissago (Switzerland).
He is also the first American ever to have been awarded the coveted Tosti song prize from the Istituto Nazionale Tostiano in Ortona (Italy), which featured him in their monumental recording of the complete works for voice and piano titled "The Song of a Life", recorded on CD by Brilliant Classics.
He has been featured as soloist with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Toscanini Orchestra of Parma, the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Philharmonie and the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande in repertoire that includes Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Fauré and Brahms Requiems, Copland’s Old American Songs, Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel, the Dvorák Te Deum, and Ligeti’s Aventures & Nouvelle Aventures.
He has worked with many internationally sought after directors including Lotfi Mansouri, Daniele Abbado, Ettore Scola, Mario Corradi, Andrea Moses, Elmar Goerden, Bernard Uzan, Isabel Ostermann, Philipp Krenn, Calixto Bieto, David Hermann, Garnett Bruce and Peter Kazaras.
He has also collaborated with many internationally esteemed conductors, most notably Donald Runnicles, Riccardo Frizza, Bramwell Tovey, Pablo Heras-Casado, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Jonathan Darlington, Valerio Galli, Michele Mariotti, Vittorio Parisi, Cornelius Meister, Andrea Marcon, Leonardo García Alarcón, Enrico Delamboye, Gabriel Feltz, Giuliano Betta, Christoph-Matthias Müller, Joel Revzen, Brian Garman, Ari Pelto, Timm Rolek, and Srba Dinić,