On the Couch with Anna Dowsley

Anna Dowsley AAR On the CouchWho is Anna Dowsley?
I am an Australian girl, born and bred in Sydney and have been a lover of music, creativity and all things imaginative since I can remember, albeit very shy and quiet at first. I am now a professional opera singer, performing on stages in Sydney and Melbourne with the national opera company, Opera Australia, as well as other music companies around the country.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wouldn’t want to do anything differently right now. I am very aware of how lucky I am to do something I am so passionate about for a living. If anything, I would love to make time in the future to give back in someway to the next generation of singers and performers. I was given so much support and encouragement as a student and I am eternally grateful for this.

Who inspires you and why?
Many women in my profession inspire me. What we do is no easy feat and I look up to women especially who handle this career, including the pressures of the operatic stage and all the training that comes with it, not to mention the transient existence and the upheaval that the career can create. At the same time, these women, performing at the top of their game, can stay down to earth, positive, generous, and somehow manage a “normal” existence.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I am aware of the power of live music, and especially of the live unamplified voice. The sincere joy shown from audience members who are moved or motivated by music makes my job so enriching. I only hope that I, with my generation, can strive to keep the classical music world strong and continue to reach audiences in all parts of society that may need an emotional release or musical escape. Music brings people together and community is more important than ever right now.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love the complete culture contrasts you can experience in countries throughout Asia. My 5 years in Hong Kong with my family as a young girl helped develop a strong connection to Asian countries, cultures and cuisines. I travelled a lot in my 20s for singing endeavours, and it took me to some glorious places around Europe and America, many of which are definitely on my top destination list; but a true “holiday” now would be escaping that Western music world completely, and leave Anna the singer at home for a while.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Any ferry along Sydney Harbour is a must. Whether you take it to South Head (Watson’s Bay) or jump on the Manly ferry, the experience of passing the Opera House and gliding along Sydney’s magnificent harbour can make anyone giddy! And then definitely a swim at any of the hidden harbour beaches along the north or south side.

What are you currently reading?
I seem to always have at least three books on the go, catering for what mood I am in and also for a rather procrastinating personality (and I’m not a fan of eBooks so this makes for heavy luggage…) At the moment, one includes a re-read of Jane Glover’s biography of Mozart (Mozart’s Women). It is so wonderfully written and brings Mozart and his music to life on the page. My other two are The Rosie Project, and Kate Grenville’s One Life: My Mother’s Story.

What are you currently listening to?
I always listen to music that I am preparing for future performances, comparing and learning from past and present singers. My cooking soundtrack is often Ella Fitzgerald because I can’t get enough of her voice and style, or else “All in the mind” – the ABC national program.

Happiness is?
Sharing a perfect bottle of wine with close friends, after a day in the sunshine, the day after an uplifting night of performing!

What does the future hold for you?
I honestly don’t know what my future FUTURE holds, and again this is one of the most terrifying parts of the career, but this can of course keep it exciting too. I can only hope that I will be singing somewhere in the world with courageous and creative minds, with a family to love and with friends and memories from all around the world.

My immediate future includes spending time with my partner Jono again (heaven!) after another month on opposite sides of the world, performing in one of my favourite productions (singing Dorabella in Così fan tutte) in Melbourne with a truly wonderful cast and returning to another favourite Mozart role (Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro) in Sydney later in the year.

Anna stars as Dorabella in Opera Australia’s production of Così fan tutte at Arts Centre Melbourne: 14 – 25 May 2019. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Anna Dowsley – courtesy of Opera Australia