His childhood, in the Machadian sense of the term, are memories of the stalls of the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. The one who visited for the first time with barely ten years with the then remote intention of being able to become a stage director one day. Two decades later, Rafael Rodríguez Villalobos (Seville, 1987) is one of the great promises of the performing and musical arts of this country, a statement that is supported by recognitions such as the Europäische Opernregie-Preiss in Vienna and the European Prize for Operational Direction, and that crystallizes now with the Prize Princess of Girona Foundation of Arts and Letters 2019 that has been granted this Wednesday at a ceremony held, precisely, in Seville, his hometown.
Preceded in this award by young talents in all artistic disciplines – of the singer Soleá Morente to the poet Elena Medel-, Villalobos has confessed that he has always felt "very inspired by these artists", in a work of cultural revitalization that directly connects with social activism. "I have a dream, and it is to spread my vision of the opera as a social and reflective tool", he assured after hearing the news of the award. After having premiered at the Maestranza in Seville and at the Teatro Villamarta in Jerez de la Frontera, operas like The dictator, by Ernst Krenek, and his staff Orpheus and Eurydice, of W. Gluck, has come to the conclusion that the opera, in addition to its aesthetic commitment, "proposes a very social reflection of life".
In spite of his continuous trips to meet his work commitments, Rodríguez Villalobos continues to live in Seville "happier than a partridge". "Vocations are born when you have an offer nearby, and I have grown up in the theaters of Seville and Jerez de la Frontera, for me it is exciting to work in my land and I feel very recognized here," he admits. Precisely, he has just received the commission from the City Council of Seville to close the Murillo Year, a proposal for which he is working on a show – which will take place at the Maestranza Theater on March 19 – which will unite lyrical and electronic music and in the who will participate in profiles as diverse as the veteran soprano María Bayo, the bailaora Leonor Leal, the pianist Jurgen Ruck and the cantaor "and activist" Álvaro Romero. "It will be a spectacle of scenic reflection on what has meant this important year in a city like Seville, the change of view towards art and the arts, a catholic experience with opera and electronic music that puts the finishing touch to this ephemeris that has made this city grow and mature ".
Also, the stage director has reflected on the precocity of his career, dedicated to the opera, a field where the average age exceeds his by far. "The Princess of Girona Foundation Award rewards young talents and that is a compliment, but also a great responsibility, I suppose I can connect better with young people because I am millennial and we speak the same language when developing my ideas. I feel very comfortable when I have had meetings with young people. When I talk to them, I perceive that they have a very wrong idea of what opera is. And that is my vital challenge: that the opera goes beyond the aesthetic experience and becomes the powerful social tool that it is. And yes, it reaches all audiences. "
In this regard, the young winner has advanced that he will debut as a librettist at the Ensems Festival of Contemporary Music in Valencia next May. He will do it together with the young Andalusian composer Nuria Núñez Hierro with "an opera for young people that talks about migrations and the concept of geographical boundary, a dystopia that happens on the high seas and that pretends to be a reflection on border dilemmas", has advanced .
The act of proclamation of the Arts and Letters Award 2019 in Seville is part of the national tour carried out by the Princess of Girona Foundation, which celebrates its tenth anniversary and for which four young talent capitals have been chosen for the celebration of the proclamation acts: Gran Canaria (for the Company Award, last February 6), Seville (Arts and Letters, February 20), Cáceres (Social, March 6), Santiago de Compostela (Scientific Research, March 27 ) and Girona, for a new International Award. This event will conclude with the events scheduled for November in Barcelona, which, chaired by the King and Queen of Spain, will include the award ceremony for all these awards.
The jury of the prize of the Arts and Letters that has awarded the award to Rodríguez Villalobos has been formed by the theatrical producer Jesús Cimarro; the artistic director of the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, Víctor García de Gomar; the film producer Luis Manso; the visual artist Lita Cabellut; the journalist Montserrat Domínguez and the poet Elena Medel.