Distinguished bass-baritone Gerald Finley is our 2019/20 Visiting Artist.

Grammy-award winning Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley OC CBE is a leading singer and dramatic interpreter of his generation, with acclaimed performances at the world’s major opera and concert venues and award-winning recordings on CD and DVD with major labels in a wide variety of repertoire. Gerald’s career is devoted to the wide range of vocal art, encompassing opera, orchestral and song, collaborating with the greatest orchestras and conductors of our time.

He began with the baritone roles of Mozart; his Don Giovanni and Count in Le nozze di Figaro have been heard live throughout the world and on DVD. Recent signature roles include Guillaume Tell, J. Robert Oppenheimer in John Adam's Dr. Atomic, and Jaufré Rudel in Saariaho's L'amour de loin. He created Harry Heegan in Mark Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tassie.

In recent years, critical successes have been in the Wagner repertoire: as Hans Sachs at the Glyndebourne Festival and Opéra de Paris, as Amfortas in Parsifal at Royal Opera Covent Garden, and as Wolfram at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His expanding repertoire includes a triumph as Verdi’s Falstaff at the Canadian Opera (for which he won a DORA Award), as a “peerless” Iago in Otello with Sir Colin Davis and the LSO (LSO Live), and in the title role in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell with Accademia di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano (EMI). His other important roles include Golaud, Eugene Onegin and Nick Shadow. In contemporary opera, Gerald has excelled in creating leading roles, most notably J. Robert Oppenheimer in John Adams’ Doctor Atomic (New York Met, ENO London, San Francisco, Chicago and Amsterdam), as Harry Heegan in Turnage’s The Silver Tassie at ENO, Howard K. Stern in Turnage’s Anna Nicole at Covent Garden and Jaufré Rudel in Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin for the much-acclaimed premieres in Santa Fe, Paris and Helsinki. He created the role of Mr Fox in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr Fox at L.A. Opera. Concert appearances include the title role in Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero (New York Phil with Alan Gilbert and the BR SO) and Chou en Lai in Adams’ Nixon in China with the BBC Symphony at the BBC Proms conducted by the composer. His Arias in English CD on the Chandos label received the Canadian Juno Award for Best Album in Vocal Performance. In 2012, the DVD release of Doctor Atomic in which Gerald Finley appeared as J. Robert Oppenheimer was awarded the Grammy for ‘Best Opera Recording’.

Gerald’s concert work is a vital part of his flourishing career with recent appearances with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, a tour of Schoenberg’s A Survivor From Warsaw with Andris Nelsons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Wunderhorn Lieder with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Lutoslawski’s Les espaces du sommeil with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. A rediscovered version of Shostakovich’s “English Poets” was recorded by Gerald Finley and the Helsinki Philharmonic on the Ondine label and received international critical acclaim, along with that composer’s orchestral cycle, Michelangelo Sonnets.  Modern day composers have written extensively for Gerald Finley and include Peter Lieberson (“Songs of Love and Sorrow” with the Boston Symphony), Mark Anthony Turnage (“When I woke” with the LPO and Vladimir Jurowski), Huw Watkins, Julian Philips, Kaija Saariaho (“True Fire” with the L.A Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel), and Einojuhani Rautavaara (“Rubáiyát” with the Helsinki Philharmonic).

As a celebrated song recitalist, he works regularly with pianist Julius Drake. Recent engagements include the Schubertiade, recitals throughout Europe, a residency at the Wigmore Hall, at New York’s Carnegie-Zankel Hall as part of a cross-US tour of Schubert’s Winterreise, and appearances at the festivals of Tanglewood and Ravinia in the US.

Gerald Finley’s many solo recital CD releases have been devoted to songs of Barber, Britten, Ives, Ravel and Schumann’s song cycles “Dichterliebe” and “Liederkreis Op. 24 & 39”. With a continuing partnership with Julius Drake on the Hyperion label, all have been critically acclaimed, including an unprecedented three Gramophone Awards in the Solo Vocal category. Their release of Schubert’s Winterreise won a Canadian Juno Award in 2015, and recently they released “Bass songs by Liszt”. His recent “Orchestral songs by Sibelius” with the Bergen Philharmonic and Ed Gardner on the Chandos label, was nominated “Best Vocal Album” by Gramophone Magazine.

The 2017/18 season was an exciting one, beginning with performances at the Berlin Philharmonic in the role of Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Gerald then returned to the Metropolitan Opera to perform Athanaël in Thaïs, followed by the Finnish premiere of Saariaho’s True Fire with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In early 2018, he made his role debut as Scarpia in Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and continued with performances of Schubert Songs with Daniel Harding and the Berlin Philharmonic and at the Festspielhaus Baden Baden where he also performed Amfortas in Parsifal. Gerald concluded the season with a recital tour in North America.

As part of his dedication to preserving and enhancing the singing tradition, he gives masterclasses throughout the world most recently at the Juilliard School of Music, and continues to work with the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Program at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and the Lindemann Program at the Met.

Gerald’s 2018/19 opens with an exciting appearance at BBC Last Night of the Prom’s where he will perform a range of songs including Standford’s Songs of the Sea and ‘Soliloquy’ from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Gerald’s operatic roles in the 2018/19 season will include Iago in a new production of Otello at the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Canadian Opera Company, the title role in Bluebeard's Castle at The Metropolitan Opera, Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Vienna State Opera, and Forester in a new semi-staged production of The Cunning Little Vixen with the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle. His concert engagements will see him perform Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antonio Pappano and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Bayerische Rundfunk conducted by Bernard Haitink. Gerald will also give several recitals including at the Wigmore Hall, Middle Temple Hall, and at the NDR Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Gerald Finley, born in Montreal, began singing as a chorister in Ottawa, Canada, and completed his musical studies in the UK at the Royal College of Music, King’s College, Cambridge, and the National Opera Studio. He is a Fellow and Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music. In 2014 he climbed Kilimanjaro for the charity Help Musicians UK. In 2017 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire and had previously been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. Gerald also features on a Canadian stamp celebrating Canadians in opera.


Header image: © Sim Canetty-Clarke