In Less than Five Minutes, Get to Know – Conductor Francesco Cilluffo

By Alan Neilson

The Turin born conductor, Francesco Cilluffo, has been a regular at Wexford since making his festival debut in 2015. In 2020, he was appointed its principal conductor, and this year will conduct four performances of Fromental Halévy’s “La Tempesta.”

OperaWire: What was the first opera production you attended?

Francesco Cilluffo: “Don Giovanni” at the Turin opera, when I was six years old.

OW: What was the last opera you conducted?

FC: Puccini’s “La Villi.”

OW: What is your next scheduled performance?

FC: “Gloria” by Cilea in Cagliari Opera House, Sardinia.

OW: Who is your favorite composer of opera?

FC: Verdi.

OW: Of the operas that you have conducted, which is your favourite?

FC: “Aida.”

OW: What opera would you most like to conduct? 

FC:  “Der Rosenkavalier.”

OW: Which character that you have seen on stage have you most disliked?

FC: Nemorino.

OW: Which composer, living or dead, do you most enjoy listening to?

FC: Sibelius.

OW: If you could invite three guests to dinner, at least one of whom must be a character from an opera, who would they be?

FC: Stefan Zweig, Verdi, and Turandot.

OW: What annoys you most about singers?

FC: When they cannot see the big picture.

OW: What annoys you most about an orchestra?

FC: When they fall out of love with their jobs.

OW: Do you prefer conducting opera or orchestral music?

FC: Opera. 

OW: What is your favorite piece of non-classical music?

FC: Madonna’s “Confessions On A Dance Floor.”

OW: Name the person who has most influenced your career.

FC: Giuseppe Sinopoli, but only through his recordings. I never met him.

OW: What is your favorite film? 

FC: “The Hours” directed by Stephen Daldry.

OW: What book are you reading at the moment?

FC: “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes.

OW: Who is your favorite painter?

FC: Fra Angelico.

OW: In which theatre would you like to conduct but, as of yet, have not had the opportunity?

FC: Covent Garden.

OW: If you had not been a conductor, what career would you have pursued?

FC: A Novelist.

OW: What do you like most about being a conductor:

FC: Making music with so many people. I also like traveling.

OW: What do you dislike most about being a conductor?

FC: Loneliness.

OW: One thing you prefer about Ireland compared to Italy 

FC: Porridge and its meritocracy.

OW: What are the necessary qualities a conductor must have to become successful? 

FC: You have to be able to see the big picture, to see things from the outside.

OW: Two adjectives to sum up your experience in Wexford

FC: Enriching and Homely.


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