VIENNA (AP) — In an unusual role, star tenor Rolando Villazon has donned a red-nose for a stint as a "clown doctor" at an Austrian hospital ward for children with cancer.

Villazon sung, juggled and mugged his way into the hearts of his youthful audience Thursday, in what he described as a "really beautiful" break from his title role in Mozart's "Lucio Silla" at the Salzburg Festival.

A young patient identified by the Salzburg hospital only as Lisa was enthusiastic, saying Villazon was "a good singer and a good clown doctor." The tenor also came away happy, saying his soul "laughs and is lit up" during such performances.

But the kids are not Villazon's only fans at Salzburg. The Austrian daily "Kurier" describes him as "the absolute driving force" of the Mozart opera.