Barbara Hannigan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Barbara Hannigan with Reinbert de Leeuw

Barbara Hannigan (born 1971) is a Canadian soprano and conductor, and one of the world's foremost performers of contemporary opera.


Hannigan's initial musical education came from the music teachers in her hometown of Waverley, Nova Scotia in Halifax[1] where, as Hannigan herself noted: "Every household had a piano, so I just got into music and singing."

After growing up in Waverley, Hannigan moved to Toronto at the age of 17.[2] She studied music at the University of Toronto, where her teachers included Mary Morrison. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1993 and a Master of Music degree in 1998.[3] She continued her studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival, and the Centre d’arts Orford. She also studied for one year at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where her teachers included Meinard Kraak. Other teachers have included Neil Semer.


Hannigan is particularly renowned for her performances of contemporary music. Her advocacy of contemporary music began in her youth, and she sang her first world premiere at the age of 17. As of 2011, she has premiered approximately 75 contemporary compositions.[4] These include One by Michel van der Aa (2002), the song cycle Auf der Suche nach meinem Gesicht by Friedrich Cerha (2007), and La plus forte by Gerald Barry (2007), which the composer wrote specifically for Hannigan.[5] She is particularly noted for her performances of György Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, and in 2011, she began to conduct the work in addition to singing the vocal part.[6] Her work in contemporary opera has included singing in the premieres of Louis Andriessen's Writing to Vermeer,[7] Gerald Barry's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant[8] and The Importance of Being Earnest,[9] Jan van de Putte's Wet Snow, Kris Defoort's House of the Sleeping Beauties, Hans Abrahamsen's "Let me tell you" and George Benjamin's Written on Skin.[10]

In 2014, Hannigan sang the role of Marie in Bernd Alois Zimmermann's opera Die Soldaten at the Bavarian State Opera,[11] a production that was streamed live on the internet.

Personal life[edit]

Hannigan is married to the Dutch theatre director Gijs de Lange (nl).[12] The two of them worked together on stage in a production of The Mikado in 2006.[13] The couple lives in Amsterdam.

Selected discography[edit]

Her commercial recordings in contemporary music include the premiere recording of Henri Dutilleux's Correspondances (Deutsche Grammophon) and Louis Andriessen's Writing to Vermeer (Nonesuch), music of Luca Francesconi (Kairos)[14] and of Harry Freedman (Centrediscs). She is also featured on four Naxos recordings of vocal works of George Frideric Handel, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Gideon, Rinaldo, and Tobit.


  1. ^ Ivan Hewett (2011-09-25). "Barbara Hannigan: 'You must go all the way'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  2. ^ Roberts, Maria (15 September 2011). "The Spellbinding Ms Hannigan". International Arts Manager 7 (17): 17, 19. 
  3. ^ Cynthia Macdonald (Summer 2004). "Barbara Hannigan". UofT Magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  4. ^ Shirley Apthorp (2011-09-23). "In the premiere league". Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  5. ^ Barbara Hannigan (Winter 2007). "Gerald Barry: the performer's perspective". Oxford Music Now. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  6. ^ Shirley Apthorp (2011-09-23). "In the premiere league". Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  7. ^ Trochimczyk, Maja, "Writing to Vermeer: A View of a 'Filmic' Opera" (Chapter 12), from The Music of Louis Andriessen (Maja Trochimczyk, editor). Routledge (Taylor & Francis, New York City), p. 259 (ISBN 0-8153-3789-2).
  8. ^ Tom Service (2005-09-16). "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Coliseum, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  9. ^ Andrew Clements (2012-04-27). "The Importance of Being Earnest – review (Barbican, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-28. 
  10. ^ Andrew Clements (2012-07-08). "Written on Skin – review (Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix-en-Provence)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  11. ^ Die Soldaten, performance details, Bavarian State Opera
  12. ^ Frederike Bernsten (2010-10-14). "Sopraan Barbara Hannigan zingt Britten in Amsterdam". Telegraaf. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  13. ^ Peter van der Lint (2006-12-08). "'The Mikado' blijkt na twee jaar nog steeds sprankelend". Trouw. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  14. ^ Steve Smith (2008-06-29). "Classical Recordings: Of Minimalism, Avant-Garde and Beethoven's Sonatas". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 

External links[edit]