Soprano Barbara Hannigan today receives one of the most important awards in French music, the ‘Prix de la personnalité musicale de l’année’ (Musical Personality of the Year) by the Syndicat de la Critique. Awarded by French music critics to an artist who has had a profound impact on French music over the past year, the award specifically recognises Hannigan’s ground-breaking performances of Alban Berg’s Lulu at La Monnaie and Agnès in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, as well as her world-premiere recording of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances on DG.
Hannigan becomes the first Canadian to receive the prestigious award, which has previously been given to musical luminaries such as Seiji Ozawa, Louis Langree, Roberto Alagna, Jose van Dam, Marc Minkowski, Kent Nagano, and John Eliot Gardiner.
Widely recognised as the most highly-regarded interpreter of contemporary vocal music, Hannigan captivated audiences and critics with her remarkable performance in the title role of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new production of Lulu at La Monnaie, Brussels, spending the majority of the four-hour opera on stage on ballet pointes.
“Barbara Hannigan immediately makes history: not only because she dances on pointe and inhabits her role with every inch of her being, but because she sings with ease, virtuosity, and colour unlike any other singer of today. This woman must come from another planet.” (Le Figaro)
Hannigan’s portrayal of another remarkable female, Agnès in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, was a triumph: “Barbara Hannigan gives a shattering, definitive performance as Agnès” (Wall Street Journal). The work, which was heralded a landmark in British opera and a significant artistic event also picks up the Syndicat de la Critique’s ‘Grand Prix de la critique’.
Hannigan’s world-premiere recording of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances with Esa-Pekka Salonen and l’Orchestre de Radio France is the culmination of almost ten years extensive work between the soprano and the late composer, as well as countless performances with leading orchestras around the world. “Barbara Hannigan is simply superb – faultless pitching, crystal clear words, a shining tone and total empathy with the composer’s message.” [BBC Music Magazine, 5*]
The award acknowledges a prodigious year for the extraordinary Canadian soprano, who is also lauded for her work in conducting and dance, leading Le Figaro to ask “does [Barbara Hannigan] lead a new generation of artists?” This season has seen her: conduct musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic while Sir Simon Rattle narrates; sing and conduct the Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra; appear as a singer, conductor and artistic partner in Southbank Centre’s major festival The Rest Is Noise; debut at the Royal Opera House in Benjamin’s Written on Skin; dance and sing in Dusapin’s Passion, directed by Sasha Waltz; and debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in US dates including Carnegie Hall.
Performances over the coming months include Written on Skin at the Bayerischen Staatsoper; Wozzeck Fragments on tour with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle; and singing and conducting the WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
The Prix du Syndicat de la Critique ceremony takes place at 11am on 24 June in Paris.