«A stylish conductor» (The Times)
«Cilluffo: keep an eye on him. He is the conductor of the future» (La Stampa)
«An instinctive feeling for Italianate lyricism» (New York Times)
«A young conductor, but balanced as a veteran» (Corriere della Sera)
«Francesco Cilluffo's reading is flowing, jaunty and yet balanced, clearly showing the well-known features of this ever-more established conductor» (L'Opera)
«On the podium was Francesco Cilluffo, stylish and elegant, but energetic and vigorous when the score requires it. […] There is no doubt this is the way a young emerging conductor should convey a modern interpretation of Verdi’s music» (Le Salon Musical)
«Francesco Cilluffo strongly holds the musical reins of the show, showing great precision in leading the difficult ensembles and finding a great sense of lyrical surrender in the Windsor park scene.» (Operaclick)
In November-December 2018 Francesco Cilluffo returned to the OperaLombardia circuit (AsLiCo) and to Bolzano to conduct a double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Poulenc’s La voix humaine (starring Anna Caterina Antonacci) in the acclaimed production by Emma Dante.
«Francesco Cilluffo’s conducting was profound and of deep impact, merging the right attention to instrumental detail with a tight and passionate musical narration» (Corriere della sera)
«Here’s the conducting of a really talented musician, a conductor who is aware of the performing tradition and who brings it toward a modern taste» (Rivista Musica)
«Francesco Cilluffo’s conducting is deeply convincing […]. He is precise in his technique and offers the audience a very nuanced palette in both operas» (L'ape musicale)
«A dry and yet extremely fascinating reading, torn between neurosis and sensual surrender» (Operaclick)
«Cilluffo’s conducting is full of colours, nuances and dynamics; he transforms Cavalleria Rusticana from a popular sketch into an intimate drama» (Teatrionline.it)
«Francesco Cilluffo gives a reading of Poulenc's score which is analytical and tense, yet fully capable to open up to the melodic nature of this music […], while in Cavalleria there is a clear intention to dry the work from excesses, bringing back Mascagni’s opera to its European roots» (Le salon musical)
In October-November 2018, for his third engagement at the Wexford Festival Opera, Francesco Cilluffo conducted a double bill of two rare verismo operas: Umberto Giordano’s Mala vita (1892) and Franco Leoni’s L'Oracolo (1905), in a new production by Rodula Gaitanou.
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted the Festival Orchestra authoritatively.» (The Times)
«Neither opera is a masterpiece, but Francesco Cilluffo’s detailed conducting made one think otherwise. One of the best Wexford openers in years.» (The Sunday Times)
«Francesco Cilluffo, who conducted Mascagni’s equally rare Isabeau for Opera Holland Park this summer, grips these scores with such commitment.» (The Guardian)
«Francesco Cilluffo on the podium captures the local color of the orientally flavored melodrama just as precisely and zestfully as the Neapolitan folkloristic in the score of Mala Vita» (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
«Conductor Francesco Cilluffo [...] gave a wonderfully invigorating and energetic account of both scores, giving fine and sensitive support to singers and chorus alike.» (Backtrack)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted with idiomatic care» (Opera)
As a distinguished alumnus of the Conservatoire in Turin, in September 2018 Francesco Cilluffo has been invited to conduct a symphonic program featuring music by Ravel, Casella and Fauré with the Orchestras of the Turin and Milan Conservatoires, which joined forces for this particular project. The concerts took place in Milan and Turin for the MiTo Festival.
In July 2018 Francesco Cilluffo made his London conducting debut with a new production of Mascagni’s Isabeau at the Opera Holland Park, with Anne-Sophie Duprels in the title role and the direction of Martin-Lloyd Evans.
«Conductor Francesco Cilluffo proves to be a major find, turning what might seem tired cliché into an operatic experience of passion, urgency and high drama.» (Financial Times)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted on his London debut with terrific conviction, and the City of London Sinfonia responded nobly, especially in the ambitious orchestral intermezzo.» (The Guardian)
«Vibrant conducting by Francesco Cilluffo helps bringing out the conflict between passion and bourgeois judgement at the heart of the work.» (The Telegraph)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducts the fine City of London Sinfonia with authority.» (The Times)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted with an imposing intensity.» (slippedisc.com)
«[Francesco Cilluffo] is excellent in underlining the unexpected Mascagni. He brings out from the score the symphonic colour, the instrumental detail and the broadness that deserve to be heard. And he does so without renouncing the narrative tension, which is even more difficult [...]. A major achievement.» (La Stampa)
In April 2018 Francesco Cilluffo made his French debut conducting Rossini’s L'Italiana in Algeri at the Opéra de Toulon in the production by Nicola Berloffa.
«Superbly led by Francesco Cilluffo, the performance immediately convinces us for its quality. Diabolic tempos, crazy crescendos... [...] all the facets of this exuberant score are performed with conviction.» (ConcertoNet.com)
«Francesco Cilluffo raises to the challenge with tonicity and engagement. The lower part of his body seems motionless, while from his chest until the tops of his head and his baton he seems willing to make the pit go ahead like a single enormous music box, capable to get excited or calm on his demand.» (Olyrix)
In February 2018, Francesco Cilluffo returned to the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa to conduct the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s Miseria e Nobiltà. Tutino’s first ever comic opera, Miseria e Nobiltà (Misery and Nobility) is loosely based on the famous play by Neapolitan playwright Eduardo Scarpetta (also a world famous movie featuring Sophia Loren and Totò). The new production was directed by Rosetta Cucchi.
«The interpreters [were] conducted with firm hand by the young Francesco Cilluffo.» (Corriere della Sera)
«[Francesco Cilluffo] demonstrates that when the conductor has strong relationship with choir and orchestra, good results are guranteed.» (operaclick)
«Cilluffo gives symphonic broadness to the orchestral interludes of the score, providing a convincing theatrical pace to Tutino's tragicomic plot.» (Avvenire)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducts with enthusiasm and authentic rapture, marvelously supported by the choir and orchestra of the Carlo Felice. He gives prominence to the rich orchestration, emphasizes the melody, highlights the popular moments, but finds the right gestures for the more lyrical ones, supporting the dialogue and never losing momentum.» (L'Opera)
After his success with L’Elisir d’amore, Roméo et Juliette, Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly, in November-December 2017 Francesco Cilluffo retured to Tel Aviv to open the season of the New Israeli Opera with Puccini’s La Bohème, directed by Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera.
«Conductor Francesco Cilluffo led the fine Opera Orchestra with sure hand and especially drew unusually lush sound from the strings. The ensembles and crowd scenes were well coordinated and balanced.» (Opera News)
«The pace of the excellent conductor Francesco Cilluffo suited the lyricism of the opera.» (megafon-news.co.il)
«I would like to mention the very flexible and stylish conducting by Francesco Cilluffo.» (opusmagazine.co.il)
«Francesco Cilluffo carved out from the score pure beauty and drama.» (The Marker Café)
In October-November 2017 Francesco Cilluffo returned to the Wexford Festival Opera (two years after leading the award-winning production of Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff) and scored another triumph conducting Alfano’s Risurrezione, directed by Rosetta Cucchi.
«Superlatively conducted by Francesco Cilluffo, who clearly believes in this music of this also-ran of the "young Italian school".» (The Sunday Times)
«Francesco Cilluffo gives a loving and detailed reading from the pit.» (The Independent)
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted with a powerful understanding of the score's architecture and never failed the audience at climaxes.» (Opera News)
«At the head of the musical direction was Francesco Cilluffo, whom I had the occasion to see conducting Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff in Wexford two years ago. I was impressed with his work then, and he has now fully confirmed it. Conducting with a firm hand, he gave an intense, dramatic reading.» (Seen and Heard)
«The orchestral part, of a striking beauty, is wonderfully provided by the Festival orchestra, under the constantly inspired baton of Francesco Cilluffo.» (Opéra magazine)
«We cannot rule out that the overall impression from this score, far superior to any anticipation, is also due to the intense and refined interpretation of Francesco Cilluffo, one of the leading baton among the Italian conductors in their thirties.» (Il giornale della musica)
In May 2017 Francesco Cilluffo made his successful American conducting debut with Puccini’s Tosca at the Tulsa Opera in Tulsa (Oklahoma, USA) in the historic production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.
In January 2017, Francesco Cilluffo made his debut with the Bremer Philharmoniker conducting two concerts featuring an all-Italian symphonic program.
«Cilluffo [...] conducted with verve and unique body language. It was a real joy to watch him and to listen to the orchestra.» (Kreiszeitung)
Francesco Cilluffo returned to the OperaLombardia circuit (AsLiCo) to conduct Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a new production by Elio De Capitani and Ferdinando Bruni. The show received unanimous praise from the public and from the press, touring the theaters in Cremona, Como, Pavia, Brescia and Reggio Emilia.
«Bravissimo to the conductor, Francesco Cilluffo, musically impeccable and with a great theatrical drive.» (La Stampa)
«The brilliant […] score by Benjamin Britten has found in Maestro Francesco Cilluffo an ideal interpreter, who has succeeded in leading and merging together the stage and the pit, where the orchestra dei Pomeriggi Musicali responded well to his input.» (L'Opera)
«Francesco Cilluffo, on the podium, has led in the best possible way such a complex and long opera […]. Not only has he acted as a secure reference to all the performers […] but he managed to obtain the best playing from the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali. […] His reading showed unity and yet variety, a well-seasoned pacing of the music drama which unfolds, and balance between dream, charm, feelings and laughter: a great result indeed.» (L'ape musicale)
«Francesco Cilluffo shows once again to know well the 20th Century operatic repertoire and exalts the orchestral timbre.» (GB Opera)
In September 2016 Francesco Cilluffo conducted a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with the New Israeli Opera for the annual open air event at the Ha'Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, attended by more than 30,000 people.
After his successes with L’Elisir d’amore and Roméo et Juliette, in June 2016 Francesco Cilluffo conducted Verdi’s Rigoletto with the New Israeli Opera and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for the Jerusalem Opera Festival at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.
«Francesco Cilluffo conducts with essentiality and precision [...] thanks to a beat that is both urgent and clear.» (forumopera.com)
«Francesco Cilluffo [...] has conducted with a firm hand, choosing, when necessary, brisk tempos but always caring for the singer’s needs; despite the amplification system, he has not forsaken the search for colors and subtle nuances..» (Operaclick)
In May 2016 Francesco Cilluffo made his Belgian debut conducting Verdi’s La Traviata at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège, in the production by Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera.
«The young Italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo has both musical precision and sense of drama.» (classiquenews.com)
«Strong link of this show: l’Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie. The expert conducting of Francesco Cilluffo leads the instrumentalists in delivering the nuances of the score.» (forumopera.com)
«Francesco Cilluffo [...] gave a brilliant reading of the score, pleasantly paced and clean.» (Il giornale della musica)
«Under the baton of Francesco Cilluffo, the orchestra delivers masterly the drama without digressing in pathos or exhibitionism; there is always just the right amount of emotion, silent suspenses, pain and elegance.» (Arts et Lettres)
After his acclaimed Elisir, Francesco Cilluffo’s return to the New Israeli Opera in April 2016 for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette in the production by Jean-Louis Grinda was another success.
«The orchestra played with great precision and depth, and an especially unusual sensitivity to what was happening on stage.» (Haaretz)
«Conducted by Francesco Cilluffo, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion noticeably emphasized dramatic happenings and emotional moments. It flexibly adjusted its tempi to the singers’ intentions, and sounded uncommonly energetic.» (Jerusalem Post)
«The young italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo, a kind of rising star, led the entire show with stable energy [...] with a quiet and consistent confidence.» (Ynet)
In December 2015 Francesco Cilluffo conducted the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini at the Teatro Regio di Parma in a symphonic program featuring music by Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Mozart...
After successfully conducting Il Campiello, Francesco Cilluffo returned at the Opera di Firenze-Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for the revival of Le braci by Marco Tutino, in the production by Leo Muscato.
«Francesco Cilluffo [...] led with a firm hand the excellent Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, drawing richness of colors and nuances, dramatic tension and homogeneity of tone and atmosphere.» (GB Opera)
Francesco Cilluffo earned unanimous press and audience praise for his conducting of Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff at the 64th Wexford Festival Opera, directed by Fabio Ceresa.
«Ratcliff [...] needs a stylish conductor [...] and in Francesco Cilluffo it has one. The intermezzo alone is worth the journey.» (The Times)
«Francesco Cilluffo commanded the score magnificently, drawing superb playing from the Orchestra of Wexford Festival Opera.» (Bachtrack)
«The best part of the performance was the musical direction by the young Italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo. He led with a firm hand and offered a heartfelt reading [...]. I think he is a conductor with a promising career ahead of him.» (Seen and Heard international)
«The impressive young Italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo drew excellent playing from his orchestra.» (Event)
Francesco Cilluffo made his German conducting debut in August 2015 with Verdi’s Nabucco at the Kiel Opera House. The new open air production was directed by Olaf Strieb.
«Italian guest conductor Francesco Cilluffo [...] provides the essential thing, the "Italianità": heat without haste, dry rhythmic rattle, expressively sung lines in the solos (flute, cello), ebb and flow of phrases, breathing with the singers.» (Kieler Nachrichten)
Francesco Cilluffo opened the 41st Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca conducting the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s Le braci (Embers - after Sándor Márai’s novel) in a new production directed by Leo Muscato.
«Francesco Cilluffo conducted with clarity of vision and passion.» (Repubblica)
«Strong advocate of the score is the young conductor Francesco Cilluffo; he poignantly draws from the score [...] each information, nuance and timbre: [...] the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia [...] is led with such confidence that it delivers the most characterful performance of the festival.» (L’ape musicale)
Francesco Cilluffo made his Israeli debut conducting L’Elisir d’amore with the New Israeli Opera and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the famous production by Omri Nitzan. The opera was part of the Jerusalem Opera Festival at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem.
«The energetic and brisk direction of conductor Francesco Cilluffo.» (Opera)
In April 2015 Francesco Cilluffo made his debut at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste conducting Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Campiello, a revival of the successful production by Leo Muscato which opened the 2014-2015 season of the new Opera di Firenze.
«Intelligent and sophisticated the conducting of Francesco Cilluffo, who leads the Orchestra of the Teatro Verdi in yet another outstanding performance, particularly with a score so difficult to deliver in its full wholesomeness.» (Operaclick.it)
«Francesco Cilluffo is a skilled and creative Maestro: [...] one must really appreciate this young conductor from Torino, always ready to deliver the atmospheres, timbres and colors of this score, and always able to sustain the development of the singing lines.» (Teatro.it)
After his successes in 2014, in March 2015 Francesco Cilluffo returned to Parma to open the opera season of the Teatro Regio di Parma with Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. He conducted the same production at the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in Modena, also with the Orchestra Regionale dell’Emilia Romagna «Arturo Toscanini».
«Cilluffo has managed to deliver perfectly the graceful and romantic tinta of this opera, with a musical leadership both clear and fluent.» (Teatro.it)
On October 18th 2014 Francesco Cilluffo earned a great success conducting a Verdi Gala at the Teatro Regio in Parma as part of the Verdi Festival, featuring the singers of the 52nd Concorso Internazionale Voci Verdiane «Città di Busseto».
In September 2014 Francesco Cilluffo opened the 2014-2015 season of the new Opera di Firenze - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, conducting Wolf-Ferrari's Il Campiello in a new production by Leo Muscato. Watch the video of the backstage
«Conductor Francesco Cilluffo at the helm of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale expressed such delicate balance with dexterity, bursting out verve and zest, with an impressive colour palette and remarkable rhythmic pulse: he held the dramatic tension always alive with no signs of slackening [...]. Cilluffo also succeeded in the hardest task, that of keeping orchestra and stage always together without the slightest smudge. (Opera Britannia)
«Francesco Cilluffo [...] has dominated the ample orchestral forces of the Maggio Musicale and the Chorus, obtaining delicate effects, featuring a buoyant sense of rhythm and a great taste for timbre.» (Classic Voice)
In June 2014 Francesco Cilluffo made his debut at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa conducting Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in the acclaimed production by Filippo Crivelli. The premiere was broadcasted in live streaming, reaching an audience of over 8,000 worldwide.
«Francesco Cilluffo [...] conducts with precision, great sense of rhythm, always being a sensible accompanist.» (L’Opera)
In February-March 2014 Francesco Cilluffo conducted a new production of Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio at the Teatro Regio in Parma and at the Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia (where the show was introduced by Alessandro Baricco).
«A reading coherent in its choices of tempi, precise in the details, sensitive to the singers and with a great and happy balance between pit and stage.» (L’Opera)
In November-December 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted a new production of Rossini’s Tancredi for the Circuito Lirico Lombardo, featuring the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali. The production opened at the Teatro Fraschini in Pavia and touched the Teatro Ponchielli in Cremona, the Teatro Sociale in Como and the Teatro Grande in Brescia.
«The show [...] owes to the great intelligence and performing maturity of Francesco Cilluffo, a young conductor but balanced like a veteran.» (Corriere della Sera)
«The best performer of the evening seemed to be the conductor Francesco Cilluffo. [...] Cilluffo understands very well the register of Tancredi, which is delicately Classic and yet already colored by a pre-Romantic feeling.» (Musica)
In the framework of his 3-year-long collaboration with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, in December 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 14 in the rarely performed multilingual version, with Claudia Barainsky (soprano) and Arttu Kataja (bass).
In October 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana at the Nuovo Teatro Comunale in Sassari, as part of the 2013 season of the Ente Concerti M. De Carolis.
«Francesco Cilluffo (...) has shown a great dramatic grip of the opera, always mantaining a haunting pace throughout the evening, using the right sonorities, without ever prevailing upon the voices.» (L’Opera)
On October 10th 2013 (the 200th birth anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi), Francesco Cilluffo conducted a Verdi Gala in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, with the soloists and the orchestra of Theater of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre. The program featured arias, choruses and symphonic pieces from Nabucco, Trovatore, Don Carlo, Macbeth, Otello and Aida.
In September 2013, Francesco Cilluffo opened the opera season of the Teatro Pergolesi in Jesi conducting Francesco Cilea’s L’Arlesiana (production from the Wexford Opera Festival). The show has been released worldwide as CD, DVD and Blu-Ray by Dynamic.
«He has a great flair and sensitivity for the Theatre.» (Corriere della Sera)
«He is really admirable in delivering particularly the accompaniments of the arias (truly exceptional the one of Federico’s Lament).» (L’Opera)
In July 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted the ORT-Orchestra della Toscana in the Opening Concerts of the 25th Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival and of the 14th Santa Fiora in Musica Festival. The programme featured works by Wagner, Verdi and Prokofiev and Cinzia Forte as soprano soloist.
Between January and July 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore for the AsLiCo (Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana). The production toured Lombardy’s historical theatres, earning great success. It has been revived also in Milan (Teatro Nuovo) and in Como (Festival Como Città della Musica).
In June 2013 Francesco Cilluffo conducted a tour of symphonic concerts with the Orchestra del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, touching several towns in Sardinia. The program included music by Mozart and Rossini.
In December 2012 Francesco Cilluffo conducted the second of a series of concerts with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, focusing on vocal and orchestral music. The concert featured Duruflé’s Requiem op. 9 and works by Mahler and Puccini.
In May 2012 Francesco Cilluffo made his debut at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, stepping to the podium for the final performance of Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules, after having worked as assistant conductor to M° Asher Fisch for the previous performances.
«A luxurious and yet never redundant orchestral sound, sumptuous but never overwhelming (and so particularly respectful and sensitive to the voices), rich of colors and sudden blazes.» (Bellininews)
In July 2011 Francesco Cilluffo conducted Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde at the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca.
«He models each sound with his hands. Cilluffo naturally finds his way even in the most complex textures of the score. He moves with incredible ease - as it seems - in the repertoire with voice.» (Il Giornale della Musica)
In February-March 2010 Il caso Mortara by Francesco Cilluffo had its world premiere in New York. It was the first Italian opera commissioned by a New York opera company from an Italian composer since Puccini’s La fanciulla del West.
«Cilluffo’s score is pungent, lush, often inventive. [...] The composer’s instinctive feeling for Italianate lyricism is broken up intriguingly with jagged, fragmented melodic phrases.» (New York Times)
«Un des opéras contemporains les plus convaincants que nous ayons pu voir en scène ces dernières années.» (Forum Opéra)
«The singers are given some highly moving melodic lines.» (Opera News)
«A theatre of ideas and passions, filled with plausible characters and dominated by a dark and yet charming tinta.» (Classic Voice)
«An intelligent new work.» (Classics Today)