Featured Artist of the Month

Cara Consilvio, Director


Q:  Where are you from?

A: Lexington, Massachusetts.


Q:  When did you start showing an interest in directing and what influenced your decision to pursue this career path?

A:  I was always making shows and telling stories from as early as I can remember. I used to climb trees and sing through the entire score of Les Misérables, acting all the parts. In elementary school, I used recess to put on plays, starring in and directing them, and forcing all my friends to be in them. By middle school, my interest was more seriously piqued and I spent summers at a theater arts camp taking classes. In high school, I ran the dance and the drama club and performed in all the plays, musicals, and dance concerts. I also started producing and directing my own work. The directing, producing and performing continued throughout college. In my twenties, I was torn between a performing career and a directing career. In addition to spending many years pursuing an acting career, I also trained as an opera singer and completed three years of post-Baccalaureate studies in vocal performance.  I then spent several years working in artistic administration at OPERA America, producing videos and concerts for them before I began directing professionally in 2013.

Q:  Who was/is your artistic muse?

A:  I am inspired by the directing philosophy of Anne Bogart, experimental theater companies of the past and present such as The Ontological Theater, and The Wooster group, and dance companies like Pina Bausch, Bill T. Jones, and Sasha Waltz. I also love great film and have spent many years studying and making films. For each show I direct, artistic inspiration is created by studying and listening to the music, researching the subject matter and time period, and finding visual imagery that creates an inspirational reference book for myself and the designers.


Q:  What has been your favorite show to direct so far?  What is your dream show?

A:  My favorite show to direct so far has been Hydrogen Jukebox, which I had the pleasure of directing at one my favorite companies, Chautauqua Opera.  It is such a dense and relevant work.

My dream show would be to direct the world premiere of a new opera. I love directing opera by living composers and librettists and am thrilled that we are in a new golden age of contemporary opera. On that note, I would also love to direct a production of JFK, The Long Walk and As One.

Hydrogen Jukebox
Hydrogen Jukebox
After Life
After Life

Q:  What is the most challenging element of bringing a show to life?

A:  Working with tight budgets and tight timelines and creating something magical and meaningful no matter the budget or time challenges.


Q:  What is the weirdest or funniest thing that's ever happened to you during a show?

A:  As a performer, I was in Yuval Sharon’s production of The Libation Bearers, playing “Fitness Electra”. Throughout the hour-long play I ran on a Gazelle fitness machine as the representation of Sisyphus, followed by the final monologue of the show. Before one of the performances, I got violent food poisoning. Still, the ‘show must go on’ (and I had no cover). After taking all the over-the-counter medicines I could, I somehow managed to get through it, weeping the entire time I was on the fitness machine. I did my final monologue, the show ended, we took our bows and the curtain came down. I fell on the floor in complete exhaustion and wept with joy and relief for making it through the show. Also, my hair caught on fire during the filming of a movie. (Only my hair was harmed)!

Q:  What's the last thing you do before the curtain rises?  Any traditions or superstitions?

A:  I realize I have no more control and pace around the theater nervously hoping it will all go as rehearsed.


Q:  What shows have you just directed and what's coming up for you?

A:  I just directed Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied for Tri-Cities Opera, followed by Tom Cipullo and David Mason’s opera After Life for Loyola University in New Orleans as part of the NOA conference. Up next I direct and choreograph The Merry Widow for The Hartt School of Music, followed by Dialogues of the Carmelites at Loyola University, and assistant direct Trouble in Tahiti/Arias & Barcarolles for Boston Lyric Opera.

Hansel & Gretel
Hansel & Gretel

"The staging by Cara Consilvio…seemed quite organically designed.  Video projections were used occasionally, but tellingly, to offer clues. It’s hard to imagine an interpretation of this work which would be more effective."

~Tom Di Nardo, The Chautauquan Daily; Hydrogen Jukebox review


Watch Behind the Scenes of Glory Denied here on PBS Expressions!


C.I.T., directed by Cara Consilvio, was an official selection of the 2016 Live Free or Die, New Jersey, New Hampshire, LA Femme International, Big Apple, Malibu International, New York Short, Lone Star, Los Angeles, Women's International, Sedona International and Lighthouse International Film Festivals.  Watch and learn more here!

Q:  What indispensable piece(s) of advice have you received that helped you along your artistic journey, something to share with today's young & aspiring directors?

A:  Be as prepared as possible for your first rehearsal.  Research, listen, study, stage in advance and then be prepared to let the singers in the room inspire you to come up with even better ideas on the spot. Nothing can be precious because inevitably something will arise that will make it necessary at certain points to “kill your darlings.” Also, be the type of collaborator and person that everyone wants to invite to the party. You may be the co-captain steering the ship with your conductor, but every member of the production team, design team, and cast is important in bringing your vision to life. Treat everyone with utmost respect and kindness.


Q:  How do you and your Valentine celebrate?

A:  We hope to be in the same place, but often that is not possible since I spend so much time on the road. So, we have FaceTime dates! When we are together, it feels like Valentine’s Day all the time as absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

On the set of C.I.T.
On the set of C.I.T.
Opera Invasion at Chautauqua Opera
Opera Invasion at Chautauqua Opera

From Marty's Mouth:


I'm Marty, the best good boy doggo in the whole world! I was named after the famous Marty McFly and Martin Scorsese, cuz' my awesomeness transcends time (and I'm a pretty great director if I do say so myself).  Cara takes me with her a lot to help direct. She shoulda called her company Pup! Productions.

I turn 6 years old on March 21 and I expect lots of belly rubs, tasty treats and new toys.  I love swimming, hiking in the woods and giving kisses to my mom and dad's feet...any feet really - they're great!

One time at rehearsal, I was taking five under the tech table and saw my friends Hansel & Gretel being confronted by a dodgy-looking Sandman dude.  I ran to protect them, barking as loud as I could. Then the Sandman began to sing an aria.  It was so beautiful I couldn't help but snuggle up with my friends and go to sleep.  Yep, I was definitely a hero that day! *wags tail*

Marty & Cara

Insignia Artists' Featured Artist: Cara Consilvio