Barbara Hannigan

Composers: Ligeti, Dutilleux, Stockhausen, Boulez, Dusapin, Abrahamsen, Sciarrino, Barry, Benjamin, Zorn and many other composers as part of her dedication to the music of our time, with over 80 world premieres to her name.

Directors: Katie Mitchell, Krszysztof Warlikowski, Andreas Kriegenburg, Christoph Marthaler, Sasha Waltz.

Conductors: Rattle, Nelsons, Salonen, de Leeuw, Harding, Boulez, Nezet-Seguin, Currentzis, Pappano, Ades, Storgards, Malkki, Pintscher, Gilbert, and Jurowski.

Sung: with orchestras including Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Radio Philharmonic and Radio Symphony Orchestra Nederland, Radio France, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and Musica Aeterna in Russia.

Conducted: orchestras including Munich Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Juilliard Orchestra, LUDWIG Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Santa Cecilia Rome, London Sinfonietta, Avanti, and Britten Sinfonia. Since her 2011 conducting debut at the Châtelet in Paris, she has devoted more and more of her time to this aspect of her musical development. She currently Principal Guest Conductor of Gothenburg Symphony.

Masterclasses: a regular guest at the Juilliard School, Luzerne Festival, Institute for the Living Voice, IRCAM, Gulbenkian Foundation Portugal, Stratton Visitor at University of Toronto, National Opera Studio England, Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, and Curtis Institute of Music.

Curator: Rest is Noise Series at Southbank Centre in London, artist in residence of Luzerne Festival 2014, resident artist NTR ZaterdagMatinee Concertgebouw (2013-14) and resident artist of Gothenburg Symphony (2015-16), artistic director for Suvisoitto Summersounds Festival Finland in 2014, Ojai Music Festival 2019, artist in residence of Aldeburgh Festival 2019, is presently artist in residence of Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

Awards: Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal 2018, JUNO Award Canada Best Vocal Album 2018 and 2019, Rolf Schock Award 2018 (Sweden), Opus Klassik 2019, Singer of the Year 2013 (Opernwelt), Musical Personality of the Year (Syndicat de la Presse Française), Germany’s Faust award for best leading female performance as Marie in Die Soldaten with Bayerischer Staatsoper. Her cd and dvd recordings have been awarded the Diapason d’Or, Victoires de la Musique, Edison, Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Gramophone Award, and have been on top ten lists of the NPR, CBC, BBC, Guardian, New Yorker, and New York Times. She is the winner of the Leonie Sonning Prize 2020 (Denmark).

Recent opera roles: include Mélisande (Aix-en-Provence), Agnes (Written on Skin, Royal Opera House, London), Lulu (two different productions at Hamburg Staatsoper and La Monnaie), Donna Anna (La Monnaie), La Voix Humaine (Paris Opera) and Marie in Die Soldaten (Munich Staatsoper). She will give upcoming operatic world premieres by Brett Dean, Hans Abrahamsen, George Benjamin, and Michael Jarrell.

Training: began in Waverley Nova Scotia with excellent school music teachers. She studied piano and oboe, and sang in choirs and vocal ensemble until she began official voice studies at age 15 with Sylvia McDonald. She received Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto where she studied with Mary Morrison. Further studies took place at the Banff Centre for the Arts where she worked extensively with actor and director Richard Armstrong, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague where she studied with Meinard Kraak, and she continues private vocal work with New York’s Neil Semer. She has made two productions with Sasha Waltz dance company, and worked in multidisciplinary improvisation and performance since an early stage of her career.

Recordings: Her debut recording as conductor with the LUDWIG Orchestra Ludwig was released in 2017, called Crazy Girl Crazy, with Berio’s Sequenza 3, Berg’s Lulu Suite, and Gershwin’s Girl Crazy Suite in a new arrangement commissioned by BH from Bill Elliott. She followed this with Vienna: Fin de siècle (2018) with Reinbert de Leeuw, piano. She will also be featured on The Passion of Charlie Parker produced by Larry Klein (2017). Her other recordings include Dutilleux’s Correspondances (Salonen and Radio France), Abrahamsen’s let me tell you (Nelsons and BR), Britten’s Les Illuminations (Amsterdam Sinfonietta), Satie’s Socrate and early songs (Reinbert de Leeuw, piano).

Lives: in Paris.


“Hannigan is an all-round musician, her whole being breathes music.”
– De Telegraaf, April 2014

“Cette femme doit venir d’une autre planète”
– Le Figaro, October 2012

“Barbara Hannigan is a great musician”
– The New Yorker, August 2015

“This soprano inhabits this music like a home.”
– Boston Globe, January 2016

“Barbara Hannigan sang with otherworldly élan and dauntless purity.”
– Financial Times, January 2016

“one of today’s most astonishing artists”
– Opera News

“The mesmerising Barbara Hannigan, as supple and subtle in voice as in her smouldering physicality.”
– The Times, July 2012

“An angel’s gentleness and vital power in one. With her flowing hair and athletic arms, Barbara Hannigan impressed in her double role as conductor and soprano”
– Jyllands-Posten, September 2016

“Hannigan is spellbinding in parable of beauty and violence”
– The Guardian, January 2017

“Hannigan has a very exact feeling for tempo relationships, and knows just when to lead the orchestra, and when to let go. It would not be a surprise if over time Hannigan’s second career actually supplants her first.”
– The Telegraph, May 2015

“Keine Frage: Hannigan ist eine versierte Dirigentin mit mehr als passabler handwerklicher Fähigkeit. Sie dirigiert ohne Stock, doch gibt alle wichtigen Einsätze und hat von allen vier hier präsentierten Werken eine eigene Vorstellung. … Darüber hinaus verfügt die Kanadierin über einen sehr persönlichen Stil. Mit anmutigen Bewegungen gleiten die Hände durch den Raum der Philharmonie, entsprechend organisch, quasi in Wellen, entwickelt sich die Musik.”
– Abendzeitung München, May 2016

“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.”
– The Times, January 2013

“This can be added to the list of Unforgettable Moments in the Concertgebouw.”
“A stunning display of musicality.”
– Het Parool, April 2014

“Barbara Hannigan ist ein Phänomen. Sie ist eine brillante Sängerin, aber auch eine gefragte und weltweit gefeierte Dirigentin. Manchmal ist sie beides zugleich.
– Alpen Feuilleton, May 2016

“Soprano Barbara Hannigan is one of our most brilliant and versatile singing actresses, as comfortable with Boulez and Ligeti as with Mozart and Handel, and she’s added a new string to her bow.”
– Independent, May 2015

“I am searching for musicians with a sense of individual drive, who have great passion and curiosity, and of course, the voice and technique to go with it.

“Our value as creative artists is not measured only by our own performances,
but by what we can inspire in others.”

In Barbara’s words


Barbara Hannigan gave the keynote speech, titled “Equilibrium” on the opening night of the Lucerne Festival 2016.

Read “EQUILIBRIUM” Lesen Sie auf Deutsch

“Barbara Hannigan talks about how to create a masterpiece and her journey from soprano to maestro”

Neil Fisher, The Times
January 2017

In this portrait article, Barbara speaks to The Times and The Sunday Times about recent world premieres, her soprano-to-maestro move, and a new “elite squad”, a foundation for young singers.

Read the article

“A Soprano Finds a New Voice: Conducting”

Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times
August 2016

In this feature article, Barbara discusses her path from soprano to conductor and her inspirations for leading roles she performs.

Read the article


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