Born into a family of opera singers, Maria Todaro was, at a very young age, surrounded by music and arts.
A versatile artist and art entrepreneur, Maria is not only a stage director, but also a fight choreographer, stunt artist, writer and conductor. Having been an opera singer herself, she is also training a new generation of singers and serves as general director of The Hudson Valley International Festival of The Voice (formerly The Phoenicia International Festival of The Voice, FofTV), which she co-founded in 2009 in the Hamlet of Phoenicia in the beautiful Catskills mountains of upstate New York.
In 2020, in the midst of Covid-19, Maria realized the unrealizable by presenting the first live performance of drive-in style opera in the US: a fully social distanced, sci-fi Tosca, presented in Kingston NY for FofV. The challenges from virtual reality directing (Volumetrics, VR, AR) opened the door for a re-imagined Tosca. As Opera UK put it, "Todaro’s concept worked because she stayed true to the drama at its core."
In 2022, Ms. Todaro opened the Minnesota Opera season with “L'Amant Anonyme,” an exceptional and rare Baroque opera by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Ms. Todaro chose a unique setting for this production: the island of Guadeloupe in the 18th century, as an homage to this remarkable black composer and his female librettist, Felicite de Genlis. In March/April 2023, she presented another version (at the Atlanta Opera, this time with a libretto fully revised and translated by her and a different version of the concept.
In January 2023 , she stage directed Elixir of Love for Hawaii Opera Theater (HOT) set in a sugar cane farm in Hawaii.
Her production of Le Nozze di Figaro in October 2022 was acclaimed as a "fresh take and whipsmart humor".
In 2021, Maria presented a unique production of Pagliacci set in the wild west, with horses, carriages, and circus artists at FofV in Phoenicia, NY.
The 2019 season had her back at the New Jersey Festival Orchestra (NJFO) for Tosca, at the Fargo Moorhead Opera for her Spanish Civil War setting of Carmen, and a groundbreaking production of Elixir of Love set in Ghana with an exclusive African American cast at FofV.
Maria made her US stage directing debut in 2015 with Cavalleria Rusticana for the Westfield Symphony Orchestra under the baton of British maestro David Wroe and was immediately invited back to direct La Boheme the next season. In past seasons she was an assistant director with Michigan Opera Theater assisting Ron Daniels in Carmen and serving as fight choreographer and assisting Bernard Uzan in Cyrano de Bergerac.
In 2017, she staged Don Giovanni for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, La Boheme for NJFO and adapted her modern version of La Boheme for the FofV a prestigious cast from the Metropolitan Opera (John Osborn, Lucas Meachem, Richard Bernstein, Mireille Asselin).
The 2018 season brought her to the University of Miami to assist Jeffery Buchman on a new production of Cendrillon and saw her own, stunning Madama Butterfly at NJFO. Maria then scored a huge success at the Phoenicia Int. Festival of the Voice with her unique production of Carmen starring Ginger Costa-Jackson in the title role.
A personal endeavor of Todaro was the creation of the opera “Les Trois Mousquetaires” inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s novel. She is the librettist, and the music was composed by Mitchell Bach.
Her future projects include writing an opera about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, in collaboration with the composer Damien Geter and the playwright Harrison Davis Rivers.