In 1990, Ramón Vargas decided to become a freelancer and went on to play increasingly important roles in major opera houses and festivals worldwide: Lorenzo in Fra Diavolo (Zürich), Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor (Marseilles), Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Vienna State Opera), Rossini's Stabat Mater (Paris Opéra-Bastille) and Amenofi in Mosè (Bologna). It was then he met renowned musicologist and teacher Rodolfo Celletti, in Milan, under whose guidance he has studied for his new roles.
In 1992, the New York Metropolitan Opera House invited Vargas to play Edgardo in Lucia, opposite June Anderson, substituting Luciano Pavarotti; this was his first appearance in the United States.
He took part in several productions there, particularly in the creation of Ronnefeld's Die Nachtausgabe. In 1988, he signed his first contract as member of the Lucerne Opera company, in Switzerland. In the following two seasons he performed many leading roles, including several uncommon ones like Belfiore in Il viaggio a Reims, Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Werther, and Salieri's Axur, Re d'Ormus.
Another decisive debut took place in 1993, in La Scala of Milan, where he portrayed Fenton in Strehler's new production celebrating the centenary of Falstaff, under Riccardo Muti's conduction. Vargas returned to the MET for the opening of the 1994-1995 season, as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.
Ramón Vargas has been working steadily in the biggest opera houses around the world ever since: La Scala (La Traviata, Falstaff, Rigoletto), Vienna State Opera (Maria Stuarda, L'Elisir d'Amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Roberto Devereux, La Bohème), London Covent Garden (La Traviata, Rigoletto, La Bohème), Paris Opéra-Bastille (Rigoletto, Traviata), New York MET (Rigoletto, Barbiere di Siviglia, Cenerentola, L'Elisir d'Amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Bohème) San Francisco Opera (Un Ballo in Maschera, Lucia di Lammermoor), Buenos Aires Teatro Colón (La Favorita), the Arena of Verona (Barbiere, Rigoletto), Madrid Teatro Real (Werther), and others.
His most recent role debuts include the lead in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Houston Grand Opera) and Don Carlo (Washington), and Lensky in Eugene Onegin at the Maggio Fiorentino Festival.
Ramón Vargas took a relevant part in the great homage to Giuseppe Verdi on January 27, 2001, singing his Requiem in Milan under the conduction of Riccardo Muti.
Upcoming engagements include Un Ballo in Maschera (Bologna), La Bohéme (New York MET, Vienna, Berlin, Florence), La Clemenza di Tito (Florence's, Maggio Musicale), Lucia di Lammermoor (Viena), Berlioz's Requiem (Salzburg Festival), La Traviata (New York MET), Rigoletto (Florence, New York MET), La Favorite (Vienna), Don Carlo (Berlin, Vienna), Idomeneo (Salzburg Festival).
Ramón has portrayed more than fifty leading roles on stage, mostly from bel canto and romantic repertoire (Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini), but has also won acclaim with Verdi's Traviata, Rigoletto, Don Carlo and Ballo as well as Massenet's Werther, Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, Gounod's Faust, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Stravinsky's Rake's Progress, and Puccini's La Bohème, among many others.
In addition to his operatic appearances, he is an accomplished concert singer, with an extensive repertoire ranging from Italian classical songs to romantic German Lieder and melodies by French, Spanish and Mexican composers from the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1998, he offered a memorable recital at La Scala, and his rendition of Mexican popular songs has been acclaimed at massive concerts in Mexico and Europe over the past five years.
Ramón Vargas' multi-awarded discography comprises Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, La scala di seta, Tancredi, Maometto II, Il Turco in Italia; Donizetti's La Favorite; Bellini's Zaira, I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Massenet's Werther; Granados' Goyescas; Verdi's Falstaff and Alzira; opera arias recitals, Christmas carols, and several Italian and Mexican popular song albums, as well as a part included in the soundtrack of the motion picture Possession. Since 1999, he is an exclusive artist of BMG/RCA.
Ramón Vargas received the "Lauri-Volpi" Award to the best opera singer in the 1993 Italian season, and in 1995 Italian critics were unanimous in awarding him the "Gino Tani for the Arts". In 2000, British Opera Now declared him "Artist of the Year". Each year, since 1999, Austrian Festspiele Magazin has given him the first place among the best tenors in the world. In 2001, received the "ECHO Klassik - Singer of the Year" Award from the German Phono Academy.