Gerald Finley. Bass-baritone, b Montreal 30 Jan 1960. Finley moved to Ottawa in 1968 and sang as a boy soprano in the St Matthew's Anglican Church choir under Brian Law. After his voice broke, he joined the Ottawa Youth Choir; he also sang with the Ontario Youth Choir, the Cantata Singers, the Ottawa Choral Society, and the National Arts Centre chorus. Briefly studying music at the University of Ottawa, he moved to the UK in 1979 to study choral music at King's College, Cambridge. He undertook post-graduate studies in choral music at the Royal College of Music, and joined the chorus of Glyndebourne Opera in 1986. Graduating to small roles by 1988, he moved to opera studies at England's National Opera Studio 1988-9, on a grant. He also studied with Armen Boyajian in New York. Glyndebourne has been pivotal to Finley's career. He won its John Christie award; his debut was there as Sid in Britten's Albert Herring; and in 1989 conductor Roger Norrington offered Finley the breakthrough role of Papageno in The Magic Flute.
Finley has been welcomed often at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where he debuted as Figaro in 1994; the performance was broadcast on CBC Radio. For that company he also starred in Don Giovanni in 2003 (receiving many accolades); and appeared as the Count in Marriage of Figaro, the Forester in Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen (2003), Germont in La Traviata (his first appearance in Verdi), Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, and in many other roles.
Although based in the UK since 1979, Finley occasionally performs in Canada. He was heard in Messiah in Montreal (1990) and at the National Arts Centre (NAC); in the St John Passion (19 Mar 1986) at the NAC; and in recital in Ottawa (1997) and often in Toronto. His first Montreal recital was at Pollack Hall 11 Oct 2000. For the Canadian Opera Company, he reprised the role of Sid in Albert Herring (1991), and sang Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro (1993), directed by Robin Phillips, from whom he learned stage and acting technique.
Finley has won notice for creating contemporary roles, eg, Harry Heegan in The Silver Tassie by Mark-Anthony Turnage (world premiere with the English National Opera, 2000), which the London Times declared a "stunning performance." He introduced the principal role in The Fantastic Mr Fox (Los Angeles, 1998), as well as the role of Robert Oppenheimer (San Francisco Opera, 2005) in Doctor Atomic, and has premiered other new works by Turnage.
In the US, Finley's frequent appearances include his debut at the Metropolitan Opera (24 Jan 1998) as Papageno in The Magic Flute; subsequent roles there have included Marcello in La Bohème (2001, broadcast on CBC Radio), and Don Giovanni. Opera Canada (spring 2001) called Finley "the most outstanding Papageno of his generation." He had his Santa Fe Opera debut in a North American premiere (2002) as Jaufre Rudel in L'Amour de loin. In Europe, Finley has sung often at Opéra Bastille, Paris (where he debuted in the role of Don Giovanni), and has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Netherlands Opera (where he debuted in the role of Count Almaviva, 2001), and Opéra Garnier. He has also sung Don Giovanni in Israel.
Finley has appeared in recital and concert on both sides of the Atlantic, and made numerous acclaimed recordings for the CBC, Deutsche Grammophon and other labels.
Awards and Accolades
Gerald Finley is consistently praised for his emotional interpretations, stagecraft, and superlative dramatic and comedic instincts. He is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's award for singers, for The Silver Tassie; and Juno awards for Songs of Travel (1998), featuring compositions by Derek Holman and for Great Operatic Arias (2011). Finley was also nominated for Junos in 2008, for Songs by Samuel Barber and in 2010, for Songs by Ravel. His recordings have won Gramophone magazine's Editor's Choice awards, a Cannes Classical Award, and an Opera News award.
He is a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music.