RAFAEL R. VILLALOBOS
General Management
Winner of the 2019 Princess of Girona Foundation Arts and Literature Award and of the 2013 Opera Europa - Camerata Nuova Europäischer Opernregie-Preis, Rafael R. Villalobos is quickly gaining international recognition as one of the most interesting young stage directors to come out of Spain. He was a finalist in the Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells Director Fellowship competition, an artist-in-residence at the Academy of Spain in Rome, nominated for the Best Young Director at the 2016 International Opera Awards in London and a Semi-Finalist in the  9th Ring Award in Graz.
 
Most recent engagements include Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Opéra national de Montpellier, Così fan tutte at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville and Germán Alonso´s Marie at Teatro Real in Madrid. Elsewhere, he has produced Acis and Galetea for the Festival Castell de Peralada, Dido and Aeneas for Teatro Real, Elektra at the Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid, Sciarrino´s Superflumina at Teatro Massimo, Hänsel und Gretel  for the Hungarian State Opera, Krenek´s Der Diktator at Teatro de la Maestranza, Gluck´s Orphée et Eurydice at Teatro Villamarta and a critically acclaimed staged version of Britten´s Noye's Fludde in Wiesbaden. 
 
Rafael R. Villalobos is particularly interested in exploring the limits of traditional opera and the transversality of contemporary theatre performance, which forms the basis of several of his creations: his own work A Welcome Guest: micro opera for a single performer, a loose adaption of Dido and Aeneas by H. Purcell and starring pop singer Pere Jou, ROMAESAMORALREVES, based on works by Carderón de la Barca, at Bramante's Tempietto in Rome, as well as Hagiografías, a solo performance by De La Puríssima in collaboration with the Cuarteto Quiroga and Orkesta Mendoza, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid.

Future productions include Tosca for La Monnaie in Brussels, in co-production with Opéra national de Montpellier, Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatro de la Maestranza, Così fan tutte at Teatro Calderón in Valladolid, scenes from Donizetti's 'Tudor Trilogy' for the Gran Teatre del Liceu as well as an invitation from the Festival Castell de Peralada.
 
Drawn to theatre and music from a very early age, Rafael R. Villalobos studied singing at the Conservatorio Cristóbal de Morales in his hometown, Seville. He holds a BA in Performing Arts from the RESAD [Royal School for Dramatic Arts] in Madrid and a first-class honours MA with distinction in Music as Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Barcelona in conjunction with the ESMUC [Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya]. He also studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and has attended workshops and masterclasses with Vincent Dumestre, Eduardo Arroyo and Mario Gas.
 
In 2019 Rafael R Villalobos was named artistic director of [DxM], a series of experimental musical theatre projects commissioned by the ICAS in Seville. In the season 2019/2020 he was the artistic coordinator of the Ópera y Juventud youth workshops for Ópera XXI, the association of Spanish theatres and festivals. He teaches at the Menéndez Pelayo International University.

 
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RAFAEL R. VILLALOBOS: G. Alonso, Marie (Trailer)

G. Rossini, Il Barbiere di Seviglia (trailer)

"Rafael Villalobos erzählt auf sehr klar verständliche Art die Geschichte [...] Er schafft es zudem, dem Narrativen noch weitere Ebenen hinzuzufügen. Das ist sehr kluges Musiktheater mit zahlreichen künstlerisch ästhetischen Anspielungen, die eine zutiefst ehrliche und sehr persönliche Auseinandersetzung mit dem Stoff widerspiegeln[...]
Villalobos gelingt es, mit seiner sehr minimalistischen Erzählweise die Grausamkeit in einer bestechenden Ästhetik zu erzählen [...] Mit seinem Bühnenbildner Emanuele Sinisi hat Villalobos auf der Drehbühne eine raffinierte Szenerie geschaffen [...]."
Grenz Echo, G. Puccini, Tosca - La Monnaie Brussels ( A. Altinoglu), June 2021
"C’est donc en teintant sa mise en scène de références à Salò ou les 120 Journées de Sodome, mais sans jamais tomber dans la vulgarité ou la provocation gratuite, que Villalobos met en perspective la cruauté du livret de Luigi Illica et Giuseppe Giacosa[...] D’un point de vue narratif, le choix de faire référence à Salò peut au départ faire peur. Mais l’intelligence de Villalobos est de s’en servir pour faire référence à la cruauté des puissants et de trouver ainsi un formidable écho au texte de l’œuvre de Puccini, qu’il permet de redécouvrir sous un jour nouveau, d’expliciter certains passages (notamment ceux où Scarpia illustre sa conception vache de l’amour)."
Le Soir, G. Puccini, Tosca - La Monnaie Brussels ( A. Altinoglu), June 2021
"Tosca s’offre ici politique en réponse aux puissances religieuses, aux mensonges, aux vices, à la justice et aux abus de pouvoir avec une modernité crue. Mise en scène par Rafael R. Villalobos, l'œuvre se pare également d’un raffinement et d’une élégance extrême, surplombée par cette violence carnassière, en accord avec la direction musicale d’Alain Altinoglu, toujours à la pointe."
olyrix.com, G. Puccini, Tosca - La Monnaie Brussels (A. Altinoglu), June 2021
"The new production of Tosca at la Monnaie by Rafael R. Villalobos [...] is an exciting work that starts from this base to expand its reflections ever more and fall back on its feet each time. Part of the interview he had given us last January was precisely about his vision of the relations between politics and clergy in this work. He integrates into his clear storytelling the figure of Pier Paolo Pasolini [...] at the time when he completed his ultimate and unbearable masterpiece Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom [...]The great intelligence of Rafael R. Villalobos is not to rigorously "reconstruct" the shock scenes of the film, but to make some visual borrowings [...]."
opera-online.com, G. Puccini, Tosca - La Monnaie Brussels ( A. Altinoglu), June 2021
"The intelligently subtle, powerfull production by the rising star Rafael R. Villalobos, with lighting by Felipe Ramos, was spine-chilling."
Opera, Marie - Teatro Real Madrid, April 2021
[...]Stage director Rafael Villalobos accentuates the darker side of the story with a certain baroque touch, taking it closer to theatre than opera. A show of great richness with flashes of genius in its execution[...]"
El País, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
"Rafael Villalobos’s staging combines the simplicity of the set design with the play of light and shadow which underscores the tragic nature of the story being told. A huge cross dominates the stage, by turns a mirror, a support, a path to eternity, the latter understood not in a Christian sense but as something transcendent."
Platea Magazine, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
The text by Lola Blasco, with Germán Alonso’s musical contribution, is served by Rafael R. Villalobos’s exceptional staging. And perhaps what is unforgettable about this Marie is precisely the work of the director, who has tried to tell it using all the forms of theatrical expression at his disposal (including visual expression, in the set, the bituminous floor and the projections/reflections on the theatre’s dome), with perfectly judged performances, composing extremely powerful images which carry far beyond the fourth wall.
Público, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
Rafael Villalobos’s staging used the space (designed by Emanuele Sinisi and lit by Felipe Ramos) with restraint and depicted the murders under a cold light. The show appeals to the eye, ear and intelligence.”
Opera World, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
 
Everything is well constructed, rehearsed, performed on a stage where Villalobos’s fantasy and imagination shine powerfully and two singers move with uncommon dedication and emotion.”
Beckmesser, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
Surrounding them is the staging by Villalobos, who goes for a floor of black gravel and an edge-lit suspended cross whose symbolism is reinforced with the initial appearance of God uniting the couple in a heavenly creative act (...) Villalobos is a seasoned director who knows how to create believable spaces with minimum tools (...) An essentially potent staging.
ABC, Teatro Real - Marie, January 2021
" Le Barbier de Séville a été gâté par ses deux précédents metteurs en scène. Même si la gracieuse et très musicale proposition de Laurent Pelly devait céder le pas devant celle stimulante et inventive de Kirill Serebrennikov, c’étaient là deux visions à même de renouveler l’approche d’une œuvre rebattue. Montpellier révèle la très originale proposition de l’Espagnol Rafael R. Villalobos : raconter en parallèle deux « transitions » (le substantif s’affiche dès l’Ouverture). Celle, amoureuse, d’une jeune femme, celle, politique, de l’Espagne. Le glissement d’une classe sociale à l’autre pour Rosina, du fascisme à la Movida pour le peuple espagnol. De Franco à Almodovar."
Resmusica, Opéra national de Montpellier - Il barbiere di Siviglia, October 2020
"The production by the young Spanish (from Seville) director Rafael R. Villalobos is genius. It transposes the action from the Spain in pre-French revolution times to another transition in Spain: the recent transition from the dictatorship into democracy that happened between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s. This transition not only had a political side but also a artistic side full of creativity known as “La movida” that enrich the production with many cultural references."
Parterre Box, Opéra national de Montpellier - Il barbiere di Siviglia, September 2020

Rafael R. Villalobos

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Rafael R. Villalobos

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