Born into a family of singers, Maria Todaro
has been surrounded by music and arts from a very young age. An artist and an art entrepreneur, this prominently established opera singer is also a stage director, librettist, choir director, and CEO of The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice.
A specialist in the baroque repertoire and in the works of Rossini, having performed in the latter’s La Cenerentola, La Donna del Lago, and of course as Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Maria is also known for her Carmen and for roles in Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, and in contemporary works as well as for choral and symphonic works. She made her directorial debut in 2015 with Cavalleria Rusticana for the New Jersey Festival Orchestra under the baton of David Wroe, followed by a production of La Boheme in March 2016, and by commitments to direct Cyrano de Bergerac, Don Giovanni, and two more productions of La Boheme in 2017-2018.
Maria Todaro in the Press
Q & A: Maria Todaro on Her New Productions of ‘The Anonymous Lover’ & Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
By Afton Wooten
Feb 18, 2023
“It is very important to me to tell the story of the composer, so I incorporated an opening monologue where Bologne addresses the audience about what it means to be a Black man in the 18th century in an elite society.”
” Maria Todaro’s Covid-inspired take was set in a fascistic socially-distanced future,
where lovers dare not touch but Scarpia has the power to inflict bolts of violence and pain that shoot out from his hands. Tosca does him in with a ray gun, and, at the end, uses it on herself rather than take what would have been an impossible-to-stage leap off the low-lying performance platform. Tosca does not always lend itself to radical reimagining, but Todaro’s concept worked because she stayed true to the drama at its core”
Eric Myers- Opera -UK- November 2020
” Maria Todaro had Cavaradossi confined in a prison space crated by four neon lights, so that he and Tosca could not touch during their short-lived reunion.
In keeping with the futuristic setting and the need to maintain onstage social distancing, Scarpia’s villain had some kind of superpowers that could down his enemies at a gesture and keep away anyone who approached him.
Tosca’s famous “kiss” was administered by ray-gun, excitingly repeated at the final “Muori!”; the diva kept the ray-gun with her and turned it on herself at opera’s end, since a leap was impossible in the staging’s configuration. The use of Virtual Reality technology to create a Blade Runner-style boffo visual for the ensemble ending Act I could only be seen on the screens, not onstage. It looked very promising..This was a hybrid, novel experience but celebration was warranted: a live American audience enjoyed a spirited live Tosca.”
“Maria Todaro’s take on Georges Bizet’s French classic adds a few new elements that only turn up the heat,
namely taking the action from the 1800s to the late 1930s Spanish Civil War. This allows for the title character and her sisters in arms to be more strong-willed as women. Carmen isn’t just a Gypsy, she’s taking up the fight against a fascist oppressor and that’s pretty hot.”
“Carmen” features great performances of memorable numbers and Todaro’s thoughtful direction offers a new twist, not just heating up an old classic, but rather lighting a fire for the whole company to carry forward.”
“The combination of music director Wroe and artistic and stage director Maria Todaro could not have resulted in a better amalgamation of music and drama.
The true genius of this production lay in its simplicity — Todaro created a believable and interesting set and staging for the three acts and various scenes of the opera, utilizing not only the stage itself, but the entire hall including the main aisle and the balcony of the church where various characters would appear, walking or running through the audience in immediate and thrilling connection with them.”
Maria Todaro Opera Stage Director
“As Director, Maria Todaro
gave the character of Carmen a feminist take. Rather than the evil temptress who causes the downfall of an innocent soldier, she was presented as an independent, courageous woman doomed by an intolerant patriarchy. It helped that Todaro set the opera in the period of the Spanish Civil War, and Carmen’s smuggler compatriots were freedom fighters opposing the Fascists. More than one audience member questioned whether using sexual allure as power is really a feminist approach to life, but, well, the opera was written in the 19th century.”
Maria Todaro Staging Carmen Fight Scene
What does an Opera Stage Director do
I love my job, I love my job as an Opera Stage Director because it allows me to exercise empathy everyday..
I enjoy the “travel into the mind” of a character and explore the “why” behind the character’s motivations, their struggles, the things that prevent them to be successful at communicating their feelings.. the question of what they actually feel… and most importantly, I enjoy inviting the performers with me in that journey, push their skills to make them discover the depth of talent they were not aware they had and deliver to an audience characters scrutinized in depth. When we have strong layered characters, we tell profoundly human stories everyone can relate to.
General Director, Founder, Stage Director