© Raphael Brand
Nova Scotian musician Barbara Hannigan divides her time between singing on the world’s major stages and conducting leading orchestras. The Berlin Philharmonic, Münchner Philharmoniker, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony are among the orchestras with whom she holds close relationships. Barbara has worked with the most prominent conductors, including Simon Rattle, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kirill Petrenko, David Zinman, Vladimir Jurowski, Antonio Pappano, Alan Gilbert and Reinbert de Leeuw. Her commitment to the music of our time has led to an extensive collaboration with composers including Boulez, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin and Abrahamsen.
Unforgettable operatic appearances include the title role in a “chameleonic and compelling” (Gramophone) Lulu in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s staging at La Monnaie, and more recently Lulu at Hamburg Staatsoper conducted by Kent Nagano and directed by Christoph Marthaler, the title role Pelléas et Mélisande in Katie Mitchell’s staging at the 2016 Festival d’Aix-en-Province conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s more recent production at the Ruhrtriennale in Germany, and a fearless interpretation of Marie as a flame in the darkness in Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper – a hugely acclaimed presentation directed by Andreas Kriegenberg and conducted by Kirill Petrenko, for which she won the Faust Award in Germany. She made her Opéra national de Paris debut in 2015 with La Voix humaine again in a Warlikowski production and returned in April 2018 to reprise the role. She created the role of Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival in summer 2017, and created the role of Agnes in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, a production which has garnered rave reviews worldwide, with most recent performances at New York’s Lincoln Center (2015), and London’s Royal Opera House (2017) and is presently in rehearsals for Benjamin’s new world premiere opera for May 2018, also at London’s Royal Opera House.
Recently appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, Barbara made her conducting debut in 2011 at the Chatelet in Paris, and her path since that time has been a constant creative development, having created special programs for Toronto Symphony, Danish National and Swedish Radio symphony orchestras, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Münchner Philharmoniker as well as the orchestra of the Munich Staatsoper.
In 2017, Barbara released her first album as both singer and conductor, with Holland’s LUDWIG as the orchestral force, on Alpha Classics, entitled Crazy Girl Crazy. The album features works by Berio, Berg and a specially commissioned Gershwin arrangement by Bill Elliott, as well as a bonus DVD by Mathieu Amalric. The album has won both the Grammy and Juno awards for best classical vocal album.
Barbara’s other recordings have garnered awards from Gramophone, Edison, Victoires de la Musique and the Royal Philharmonic Society. Other awards include Singer of the Year (Opernwelt, 2013), Musical Personality of the Year (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012), Ehrenpreise (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, 2018), and Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts (2018).
Recently appointed as a member to the Order of Canada (2016), Barbara Hannigan’s life as an artist has been the subject of several documentaries: Accentus Music’s acclaimed documentary I’m a creative animal, produced at Lucerne Festival 2014 where she was Artiste Etoile, Dutch television’s Canadees Podiumdier (NTR 2014), as well as three films by Mathieu Amalric: C’est presque au bout du monde, Lulu Variations, and Music is Music.
In 2017 Barbara created Equilibrium, an international mentoring initiative for young professional musicians, and chose 21 participants from a total of 350 applicants from 39 countries to participate in Equilibrium’s first season (2018/19), which will have over 20 performances with four partner orchestras in works including Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Mozart’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.
The singer and conductor debuts as an opera conductor
George Benjamin (music), Martin Crimp (text) – With Stéphane Degout (King), Barbara Hannigan (Isabel), Gyula Orendt (Gaveston/Stranger)...
Neil Armfield (director), Vladimir Jurowski (conductor) – With Allan Clayton, Sarah Connolly, Barbara Hannigan, Rod Gilfry...
London Symphony Orchestra
George Benjamin (conductor), Katie Mitchell (stage director) – With Christopher Purves (The Protector), Barbara Hannigan (Agnès)...
A documentary on female conductors
Lucerne Festival 2014