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Musical World

Barbara Hannigan

  • Soprano


Barbara Hannigan press reviews

"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)

“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)

" 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)