Rafael Rodríguez Villalobos, 2019 FPdGi Arts and Literature Award

The winner was chosen for “his ability to create deeply appealing visual universes and his vision of opera as a tool for social construction”.

Winner of the prestigious European Opera-directing Prize in Vienna in 2013, and nominated for the International Opera Awards in London in 2016, Rafael R. Villalobos is considered to be one of the most interesting young opera directors working in Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary and the UK. He was a finalist in the Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells Director Fellowship competition in London as well as an artist-in-residence at the Spanish Royal Academy in Rome. Some of his projects have been broadcast by BBC Arts and OperaVision, and he has exhibited part of his work at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. In 2019, he won the FPdGi Arts and Literature Award, and the Andaluces del Futuro Prize presented by Grupo Joly and Bankia.

Drawn to the opera at a very early age, he studied at the Conservatorio Cristóbal de Morales in Seville. A graduate of the Royal School for Dramatic Arts in Madrid, he went on to obtain first-class honours with distinction in the Master’s in Music from the University of Barcelona in conjunction with ESMUC. He has also studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Director, dramatist, stage designer, costume designer and lighting director, Rafael has worked alongside national award winners such as Lola Blasco, Pedro Berdäyes and Cuarteto Quiroga, and with musical directors such as David Afkham, Tito Ceccherini, János Kovács and Pedro Halffter.

Especially interested in the transversal nature of contemporary opera and theatre, his work A Welcome Guest: microopera for a single performerwon critical acclaim on its premiere in Barcelona in 2012, and was followed by ROMAESAMORALREVESat Bramante’s Tempietto in Rome, and Hagiographiesat the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, starring the Spanish group De La Puríssima. In 2018 he presented Gratia Plenain Seville, which was commissioned by the Institute of Culture and Arts of Seville (ICAS) to mark Murillo Year. He also directed the show Saltar el muro,performed during the closing of this event and starring María Bayo and Leonor Leal at the Teatro de la Maestranza.

After staging Noye’s Fluddeby Britten in Wiesbaden, some of his other recent operatic works include Dido & Aeneasby Purcell (Teatro Real, Madrid), Rigoletto by Verdi (Teatro Sociale, Como), Elektraby Strauss (Auditorio Nacional, Madrid), Die Entführung aus dem Serailby Mozart (West Green House Opera, London), Superfluminaby Sciarrino (Teatro Massimo, Palermo), Hänsel und Gretelby Humperdinck (Hungarian State Opera, Budapest), Acis and Galateaby Händel (Peralada Festival, Spain), Der Diktatorby Krenek (Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville), and Orphée et Eurydiceby Gluck (Teatro Villamarta, Jerez).

But he will never direct Tristan und Isolde.

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