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, 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 taken part at Ring Award competition in Graz.
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.
Especially interested in the limits of traditional opera and the transversality of contemporary theatre and performance, the premiere in Barcelona of his work A Welcome Guest: microopera for a single performer – a free version of Dido and Aeneas by H. Purcell starring pop singer Pere Jou - was acclaimed by both the critics and the audience. He has also presented ROMAESAMORALREVES after works by Carderón de la Barca at Bramante's Tempietto in Rome, as well as Hagiografías at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, a solo by De La Puríssima in collaboration with the Cuarteto Quiroga and Orkesta Mendoza.
Having staged Noye's Fludde by B. Britten in Wiesbaden to great acclaim, some recent works include Dido and Aeneas by H. Purcell -Teatro Real, Madrid, Elektra by R. Strauss -Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid, Superflumina by S. Sciarrino -Teatro Massimo, Palermo-, Hänsel und Gretel by E. Humperdinck -Hungarian State Opera, Budapest-, Der Diktator by R. Krenek -Teatro de la Maestranza, Sevilla- and Orphée et Eurydice by Ch. Gluck -Teatro Villamarta, Jerez- next to conductors such as David Afkham, Tito Ceccherini and Pedro Halffter.
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 Opera National Montpellier, Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, Teatro Real in Madrid, Teatro Calderón in Valladolid and Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
He will never direct Tristan und Isolde: he just wants to sit, relax and enjoy this masterwork.