2019 Princess of Girona Foundation Arts and Literature Award and winner of the 7th Opera Europa - Camerata Nuova Europäischer Opernregie-Preis, 2013, Rafael is making a name for himself as one of the most interesting young stage directors from Spain working in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and the UK. He has also been a finalist of the Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells Director Fellowship competition as well as an artist-in-residence at the Academy of Spain in Rome. He has recently been nominated as Best Young Director for the International Opera Awards in London, and has been awarded at Ring Award competition in Graz as well as the YAM awards.
Drawn to theatre and music at a very early age, Rafael R. Villalobos studied solfège and singing at the Conservatorio Cristóbal de Morales in his hometown, Seville. He gained a BA in Performing Arts from the RESAD [Royal School for Dramatic Arts] in Madrid, and went on to obtain first-class honours with distinction in an MA in Music as an Interdisciplinary Art at the University of Barcelona in conjunction with the ESMUC [Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya]. He has also studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and attended workshops and masterclasses with Vincent Dumestre, Eduardo Arroyo and Mario Gas.
Some recent works include Marie by G. Alonso -Teatro Real, Madrid, Il Barbiere di Siviglia by G. Rossini -Opéra Orchestra National Montpellier-, Cosi fan tutte by W. A.. Mozart -Teatro de la Maestrana, Sevilla- and Tosca by G. Puccini -La Monnaie, Bruxelles- next to conductors such as David Afkham, Alain Altinoglou or Michel Schonwandt.
In 2019 he has been named artistic director of [DxM], a cycle of experimental musical theatre projects commissioned by the ICAS in Seville. He is also the coordinator of the Ópera y Juventud youth workshops for Ópera XXI, the association of Spanish theatres and festivals, and teaches at the Menéndez Pelayo International University.
Future works include new productions for Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real in Madrid, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and Teatro de la Zarzuela.
He will never direct Tristan und Isolde: he just wants to sit, relax and enjoy this masterwork.