Winner of the Bamberger Symphoniker’s International Mahler Competition, Maestro Finnegan Downie Dear is a rising star of the international orchestra scene joining us in Adelaide for Macbeth. A lover of Verdi’s music (how can you not be!), he is thrilled to be in the pit with the ASO for his Australian operatic debut!
What is your favourite part of the job?
I’d say there are two parts. The inward, often solitary moments in the company of these incredible pieces where a word or phrase seems to reach out and touch you from the page are very special. And then when you feel these moments speak through singers and players – that’s an incredible feeling.
What is your favourite thing about Verdi’s music?
I think what I admire most about Verdi’s music is it’s incredible simplicity and the clarity with which he can articulate a moment or emotion on stage. I didn’t always appreciate this as much as I do now – I remember an older and very experienced member of music staff at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden telling me once that what Verdi could do with ‘just’ a melody and a baseline far surpassed what many other later composers could manage with fistfuls more notes! It is so true – there is this space behind the music through which great artists can speak the drama.
What is your favourite part of the score, which musical elements do you particularly enjoy conducting?
I love the duet between Lady Macbeth and her husband in Act 1. It’s so exciting and full of so many wonderful details – the oscillating pianissimo string chords as she almost glides on stage, the gentle hooting of the owl before Macbeth does the deed… it captures both the ruthlessness of the murder and how it more or less immediately destroys Macbeth. In the next scene the camera pans out from this very personal, intimate scene for the enormous communal outpouring of grief and anger in the chorus which ends the act. This change in focus is really virtuosic.
If you were a singer, which role in Macbeth would you like to play?
I think being a witch would be a lot of fun – in some ways the energy of these choruses feel to me to be the beating dark heart of the piece.
How excited are you to be making your Australian operatic debut with State Opera?
Although I grew up in London, my mum is actually from Brisbane, so I’m very excited to be conducting an opera in Australia for the first time! To have some of my Australian family in the audience will be very special.