Barbara Hannigan, 2019 Music Director

Barbara-Hannigan2019 Festival: June 6-9, 2019
Barbara Hannigan is known worldwide as a soprano of vital expressive force directed by exceptional technique. She is now bringing that same high energy and expertise to her varied activities as a conductor while continuing to work, as a singer, with the most prominent maestros, including Simon Rattle, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kirill Petrenko, David Zinman, Vladimir Jurowski, Antonio Pappano, Pierre Boulez, Alan Gilbert and Reinbert De Leeuw.

Blessed with a voice at once pure and hot, she has arrived, through challenging and diverse repertory choices, at a point of complete control, intensity and versatility. She also possesses an exciting stage presence, whether in opera or on the concert platform. Much sought after in contemporary music (she has given over 80 world premieres), she is no less brilliant and devoted a performer of Baroque and Classical music. Bringing freshness to older music and authority to new, she is among the very few singers whose every performance is an occasion.

She is a frequent guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker, who commissioned for her Hans Abrahamsen’s symphonic song cycle let me tell you, a work which her performances has rapidly launched around the world. In 2014 she had the rare honour of an invitation as Artiste Étoile to the Lucerne Festival, where she conducted, gave master classes, and premiered an orchestral work written for her by Unsuk Chin.

György Ligeti and Henri Dutilleux both regarded her as their soprano of choice. Her startling performances of Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre has been acclaimed widely, as has her expressive fullness in Dutilleux’s Correspondances. Her recording of this work has garnered awards from Gramophone, Edison, and Victoires de la Musique. Other awards include “Sängerin des Jahres” (Opernwelt, 2013), and Personalité Musicale de l’Année (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012). She has worked extensively with Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Gerald Barry, Salvatore Sciarrino, Pascal Dusapin and Hans Abrahamsen, among a long list of composers.

Part of Hannigan’s outstanding quality comes from bringing to the concert platform the dramatic verve and character one might expect on the opera stage – and from retaining, as an opera performer, all the musicianship she displays as a concert artist. She is, whether in concert hall or opera house, a full being. And she has worked tirelessly with directors and conductors to achieve that fullness, and to go on expanding it.

Unforgettable opera appearances have included most recently an extraordinary embodying of the title role in Lulu, in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s staging at La Monnaie, and a fearless interpretation of Marie as a flame in the darkness of Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper, a hugely acclaimed presentation directed by Andreas Kriegenberg and conducted by Kirill Petrenko. To the premiere production of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin she brought a gripping portrayal of a young woman in dawning self-realisation, which she performed most recently at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival. She also sang the role of Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in another Warlikowski production at La Monnaie. She has worked extensively with choreographer Sasha Waltz on productions of Hosokawa’s Matsukaze and Dusapin’s Passion, thoroughly utilizing her physical as well as vocal agility. In the 2015 – 2016 season she will sing Mélisande at Festival Aix-en-Provence and La Voix humaine at Paris Opera. Future seasons will add the world premieres of Gerald Barry’s Alice in Wonderland and Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet, to the repertory of characters she vividly inhabits.

She is steadily developing her range as a conductor. From a first and much applauded debut conducting Stravinsky’s Renard at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, she has gone on to work with orchestras including the Göteborgs Symfoniker, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and l’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. As a performer herself, she enjoys a warm rapport with orchestral players, and this communicates itself in her concerts, while her programming has music old and new striking sparks off each other. Her conducting debut at the Concertgebouw with Ludwig Orchestra, won the Ovatie 2014 award for best classical concert of the year in the Netherlands.

Her 2015 – 2016 season further sees her as Artist in Residence with the Gothenburg and Bamberg Symphony Orchestras, both as soprano and conductor. She will also conduct the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Münich Philharmonic. She will give the US premiere of Hans Abrahamsen’s Let me tell you with the Cleveland Orchestra under Welser-Möst, both in Cleveland and at Carnegie Hall, before performing this with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons. A recording of this work with Hannigan, Nelsons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will be released on the Winter & Winter label in January 2016.

Barbara Hannigan’s life as an artist has been the subject of two documentaries: Accentus Music’s awarded documentary I’m a creative animal produced at Lucerne Festival 2014 where she was Artist in Residence and the Dutch NTRCanadees Podiumdier (NTR 2014). Other projects include a filmic poem for the female voice by French filmmaker Mathieu Amalric and an exhibit of 3D photography by Philippe Cometti at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

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Photo Credit: Raphael Brand