Eli is an accomplished baritone (roles with San Francisco Opera Center, Los Angeles Opera, Cultural Arts Festival in Cortona, Italy among others) director, and composer. In his 20th season as resident stage director and teaching artist for LA Opera Connects, part of the Education and Community Programs department, Eli teaches and directs as many as 2,000 students annually in original productions including the acclaimed In-School Operas, Opera Camp, and the Community Opera at the Cathedral conducted by Music Director James Conlon. He serves as guest director for California State Universities Long Beach and Northridge and is on the faculty of Ann Baltz’s Los Angeles-based OperaWorks, directing and teaching acting for singers. He also recently enjoyed a summer residency with The Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy in Red Bank, NJ on a summer opera camp program for vocalists aged 10-17.
His compositions are praised for their appeal to audiences and performers alike. His commissioned works of One-Act operas include Then I Stood Up which premiered in 2017, The White Bird of Poston, Friedl, and The Festival Play of Daniel, an adaptation of the 13th-century liturgical play. In addition, music ranging from solo to choral works to handbell songs can be found through publishing companies Fred Bock Music, Laurendale Associates, and Cherry Lane Music. As the Los Angeles Opera states: “Eli Villanueva, a talented and passionate musician, director and educator, brings his magic to every project on which he works. His uniquely energetic and joyful approach draws out consistently remarkable performances from community members and students new to performing, as well as from seasoned professionals.”