Barbara Hannigan
Soprano

"The piece that raised this concert to an unforgettable climax was Mysteries of the Macabre. Hannigan both sang and directed in a tour de force of performance and vocal brilliance" (The Guardian)

Contacts

Jasper Parrott +44 (0)20 7229 9166
Tuğçe Tez +44 (0)20 3725 9148
Arnold Klugkist +44 (0)20 3725 9106

Biography

A frequent guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Barbara Hannigan has appeared with most the other leading orchestras worldwide and with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Reinbert de Leeuw, Vladimir Jurowski, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Much sought after in contemporary music, Barbara Hannigan has given over 80 world premieres and has worked with composers including Ligeti, Knussen, Boulez, Dutilleux, Stockhausen, Benjamin, Abrahamsen, Andriessen and Dusapin. Upcoming world premieres include works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Magnus Lindberg, Gerald Barry, Unsuk Chin and Brett Dean.

In recent seasons she made extraordinary impressions as Berg's Lulu at La Monnaie, in Benjamin’s Written on

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A frequent guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Barbara Hannigan has appeared with most the other leading orchestras worldwide and with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Reinbert de Leeuw, Vladimir Jurowski, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Much sought after in contemporary music, Barbara Hannigan has given over 80 world premieres and has worked with composers including Ligeti, Knussen, Boulez, Dutilleux, Stockhausen, Benjamin, Abrahamsen, Andriessen and Dusapin. Upcoming world premieres include works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Magnus Lindberg, Gerald Barry, Unsuk Chin and Brett Dean.

In recent seasons she made extraordinary impressions as Berg's Lulu at La Monnaie, in Benjamin’s Written on Skin (Agnes)and in Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten (Marie) at Bayerische Staatsoper. She has also sung the title role in Stravinsky's Le Rossignol, Gepopo/Venus in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Anne Truelove (The Rake's Progress) and Armida in Handel’s Rinaldo. She will make her role debuts as Donna Anna, Melisande and La Voix Humaine in coming seasons.

Concert repertoire in the 14/15 season includes the premiere of Les Silences de Sirenes by Unsuk Chin, Wozzeck Fragments by Berg, Dutilleux’s Correspondances, Hans Abrahamsen's Let me tell you, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Lonely Child by Vivier and Written on Skin.

Barbara Hannigan made her conducting debut in 2010 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Stravinsky’s Renard, and has since conducted orchestras including the Gothenburg Symphony, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Prague Philharmonia and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Her repertoire has included works by Rossini, Haydn, Schoenberg, Mozart, Stravinsky, Britten and Ligeti. In 2015 she will embark on a tour of nine performances in the UK with the Britten Sinfonia as both conductor and singer.

Her recording of Dutilleux's Correspondances won the Gramophone Award for best contemporary recording of 2013 and she was recently named Singer of the Year by Opernwelt and Musical Personality of the Year by the Syndicate of the French Press.

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Contacts

Jasper Parrott +44 (0)20 7229 9166
Tuğçe Tez +44 (0)20 3725 9148
Arnold Klugkist +44 (0)20 3725 9106

Reviews

"As for the performers. Benjamin tailor-made the roles for them, starting with the stunning Barbara Hannigan: we will eventually run out of adjectives to describe this extraterrestrial whose kaleidoscopic voice brings to contemporary music all the rules of bel canto." (Le Figaro, November 2013)

"The vocal lines, in constant change, were moulded with eloquence, elasticity and a palette of subtle nuances by Barbara Hannigan - definitely one of the great operatic actresses of our time." (Diapason, November 2013)

“Barbara Hannigan is simply superb – faultless pitching, crystal clear words, a shining tone and total empathy with the composer’s message.” (Roger Nichols, BBC Music Magazine, May

...

"As for the performers. Benjamin tailor-made the roles for them, starting with the stunning Barbara Hannigan: we will eventually run out of adjectives to describe this extraterrestrial whose kaleidoscopic voice brings to contemporary music all the rules of bel canto." (Le Figaro, November 2013)

"The vocal lines, in constant change, were moulded with eloquence, elasticity and a palette of subtle nuances by Barbara Hannigan - definitely one of the great operatic actresses of our time." (Diapason, November 2013)

“Barbara Hannigan is simply superb – faultless pitching, crystal clear words, a shining tone and total empathy with the composer’s message.” (Roger Nichols, BBC Music Magazine, May 2013)

“She made her belated entry unexpectedly from stage left, smokily and slinkily, scantily clad, a Lulu to a T. It wasn’t only magical theatre, but musical bliss: the top register spine-­tinglingly in tune, the articulation breath­taking and her ­sub­­sequent assumption of the Countess Geschwitz role no less riveting.” (Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, May 2013)

"The main event began during the second piece [of Berg’s Lulu Suite], as the extraordinary Barbara Hannigan strolled on, lounged against a wall like a high-heeled hooker at a bus-stop, then prowled through the orchestra as though searching for prey. This Canadian soprano’s stage presence is always mesmerising whatever she does, but when she shook off her furs – revealing a skimpy nightdress – to begin ‘Lulu’s Song’, the physical provocation was both compounded and counteracted by the coloratura purity of her singing (and by the psychopathic innocence of her song). Her concluding number – fifteen heartfelt words from her fictional lesbian lover - had comparable impact." (Michael Church, The Independent, April 2013)

"The concert was billed as Spring Shock?! Well, not so much of a shock, but rather a surprise party of rare sort - no one else could have achieved anything close to Barbara Hannigan’s musical and theatrical performance. The Overture from L’Italiana in Algeri was an elegant whirlwind experience. After that came Mozart… Hannigan communicated with her whole body what her beautiful soprano voice was expressing. The orchestra could do nothing else but become one with her interpretation. This was in the best possible way chamber music, although still, in essence, opera. Barbara Hannigan then took the stage for Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, in high-heeled platform boots. The move was magnificent, the interaction perfect and the audience’s reaction overwhelming. It was like being transformed thirty years back in time, but with the difference of this being great - not just experimental - art." (Håkan Dahl, Göteborgs-Posten, April 2013)

“What this brilliant Canadian soprano and her Dutch accompanist did with Berg’s Seven Early Songs and Schoenberg’s Four Songs, Op 2 was extraordinary.” (Michael Church, The Independent, January 2013)

“If today’s foremost composers have a single muse, she is Barbara Hannigan. The Canadian soprano is willowy, beautiful, a mesmerising actress and possessed of the grace of a trained dancer (which she is). But those are just her incidental qualities. What chiefly marks her out is her astounding ability to embody the most complex modern scores, then project them with white-hot intensity and an extraordinary vocal range and precision.” (Richard Morrison, The Times, January 2013)

“Barbara Hannigan proved to be ideal for the demanding title role, her soprano excitingly secure throughout the range, her stage presence utterly convincing as the spoilt, capricious, amoral heroine.” (John McCann, Opera, February 2013)

“At times, Lulu also wore ballet shoes and a tutu and her own pointe work was superb. Nabbing slim, agile Barbara Hannigan for the title role was a stroke of genius. She picked off the high notes with ease while managing to phrase exquisitely; quite simply, the best Lulu I have ever seen on stage.” (Francis Carlin, Opera Now, January 2013)

"Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan gives a shattering, definitive performance as Agnès." (The Wall Street Journal, July 2012

 “Barbara Hannigan has all the sensual physicality you could dream of for the role. She can convey dangerously repressed passion and sing meltingly rich high notes at the same time; she makes us believe every second of her part.” (Financial Times, July 2012)

“The cast is remarkable, too. Barbara Hannigan compellingly charts Agnès’s growing self-awareness, and wraps her voice ravishingly around Benjamin’s high-lying vocal lines.” (The Guardian, July 2012)

"...it still sends shivers down the spine, and none of the previous London performances I've heard has had such a remarkable soprano soloist as Hannigan, whose beauty of tone and understanding of Boulez's melismatic vocal writing are quite extraordinary. Finally, one senses, Pli Selon Pli has received the consummate performance its compositional virtuosity demands." (The Guardian, September 2011)

"Boulez's ear is fabled for its precision and this was a stunningly meticulous reading, with Barbara Hannigan the soprano soloist. Boulez has frequently revisited Pli selon Pli over three decades. As its mysterious layers fragmented and cohered, one sensed, without necessarily comprehending specific meanings of text or music, a cosmic unfolding. For nearly an hour and a quarter we were taken to a realm far beyond everyday experience." (Evening Standard, September 2011)

"What felt new here, with Boulez’s deliberate baton guiding the silky playing of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the extraordinary Hannigan somehow finding a cool voluptuousness in every vertiginous leap her voice took, was the sheer sensuality of it. Debussy wandered all over the diaphonous harmonies. Once past the initial thunderclap that begins the piece, Hannigan’s first seductive utterance had the headiness of Ravel’s Shéhérazade. For a while it seems as if Boulez’s folds on folds will keep you in this free-floating state for ever. The masterstroke comes when poetic infinity becomes finite, and death enters the fray. A convulsive, addictive shiver scythes through the orchestra. Hannigan, reduced to just one line from the climactic poem, whispered the final word — “la mort” — as if her whole being had drained into it." (The Times, September 2011)

"The performance in KKL, which was a milestone in the history of the Lucerne Festival Academy, showcased the immediate sensuality of the music...It may also have been due to the soprano Barbara Hannigan, who gave her part much emphasis, through a broad dynamic spectrum and a rich. By the end of the month an ensemble composed of members of the Lucerne Festival Academy and the Ensemble Intercontemporain will be on a European tour in six different cities with Boulez and “Pli selon pli”. Could anyone imagine a better calling card?" (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 2011)