Stephan Zilias studied piano and conducting in Cologne, Düsseldorf and London. Among his teachers were Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich for piano; and conducting professors Volker Wangenheim, Rüdiger Bohn and Colin Metters. During his studies he participated in masterclasses and was influenced by Bernard Haitink, Gianluigi Gelmetti and Ilan Volkov. He also spent time working as the musical assistant to Markus Stenz at Cologne Opera, where, in 2011 he made his house debut conducting performances of Wozzeck.
He went on to gain further experience as an assistant to Edward Gardner at the English National Opera, Thomas Hengelbrock at the Baden-Baden Festival and Stefano Montanari at Opéra de Lyon.
Between 2012 and 2014, Stephan worked as a repetiteur and Kapellmeister at Mainz Opera. During this time, he made his debut at the Bregenz Festival, conducting Die Zauberflöte. He spent one season as 1st Kapellmeister at Theater Lüneburg before being appointed in the same role at Bonn Opera in 2015. There he conducted critically acclaimed productions of Madama Butterfly, La bohème, Turandot, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, Rusalka, Carmen and Philip Glass’ Akhnaten. During his tenure in Bonn he was pleased to be actively involved with the education and outreach programmes of the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn. Other symphonic experience includes concerts with the Hofer Symphoniker and the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse.
In the 2018/19 season, Stephan became Kapellmeister and Assistant to Donald Runnicles at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Last season, he conducted revival performances of La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, Die Fledermaus, Carmen and new productions of Wozzeck, La Sonnambula and Detlev Glanert’s new opera, Oceane.
His performances this season at the Deutsche Oper Berlin include Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte, Die Fledermaus, Nabucco and Langgaard’s Antikrist. He will make first appearances conducting at the Savonlinna Opera Festival with Carmen, at Leipzig Opera with Il barbiere di Siviglia and at Hannover Opera with Salome. He will also conduct symphonic concerts with the Hannover Opera Orchestra and makes a return to the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn.
In 2018, Stephan was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.