Paola Cuffolo – Director
Paola first began directing opera during her time as an undergraduate reading Music at St Peter’s College, Oxford, where she co-founded St Peter’s College Opera. She first directed the college production of Così Fan Tutte (2009), followed quickly by their Die Fledermaus (2009), for which she also adapted the libretto. Having finished her studies in 2010, she was invited back to the college to direct their production of The Marriage of Figaro in early 2011, which was said to have been ‘performed… with astonishing verve’ (Financial Times).
Paola was then fortunate to be able to assist John Ramster at AIMS 2012, working with him on scenes from Louise, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, and La Bohème. During the course, she was also given her own scenes to direct from Così Fan Tutte and Carmen.
In May 2012, Paola and General Director Nicholas Simpson co-founded Opera Lyrica, which has sought to promote singers, players, conductors, and technical staff who are at the beginning of their careers. As Artistic Director, Paola directed all of their performances, beginning with their premiere production in October 2012, a double bill of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor and Die Zauberflöte under conductor Jonathan Lo, to great acclaim. She also adapted the dialogue for this, re-writing it in the style of Lewis Carroll to fit the Wonderland-themed production. Their second production, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, took place in May 2013 under the baton of pianist and conductor Craig Greene, with a setting which ‘would have pleased Rossini with its concept’ (Sophia Lambton, Cherwell). In Autumn 2013, Opera Lyrica went on its first tour with a semi-staged production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, including a baroque ensemble under conductor William Cole, which was said to have ‘achieved something really quite special’ (**** Fringe Opera).
In 2014, Opera Lyrica established itself in London with a production of Così fan tutte, and described by Robert Hugill as ‘highly intelligent’ and ‘fresh and engaging’ (**** Planet Hugill).
In 2015, Opera Lyrica undertook another tour, this time with a semi-staged baroque double bill of Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, described as ‘bewitching’ (**** Fringe Opera) and ‘memorable’ (**** Planet Hugill). This was with baroque ensemble, lead from the harpsichord by William Cole. In May 2015, Paola and Opera Lyrica took up residence at the 20th Century Theatre for four days of performances of Verdi’s La Traviata under the baton of Opera Holland Park veteran Matthew Waldren (‘Cuffolo was still able to find some little gems of innovation in the direction of [the] piece’, Roxana Haines) and a revival of the 2014 production of Così fan tutte under William Cole.
Also in 2015, Paola lead a workshop on Dido and Aeneas at South Hampstead High School, as well as two open rehearsals on staging Handel’s Messiah for Opera Prelude. Most recently, Paola directed Dress Rehearsal, a new play with opera by A J Evans, which ran for two weeks at the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes (Feb 2016).
Alongside directing Paola is also active as a freelance mezzo soprano, as well as being a regular lecturer for Opera Prelude, which allows singers to lecture on opera-related topics with live vocal demonstrations. Paola is delighted to be involved in Fox Opera’s premiere production, and hopes it is the first of many.