Alban Berg

Lulu


La Monnaie, Brussels

“Pour sa première Lulu, Barbara Hannigan entre aussitôt dans l’histoire: non seulement parce qu’elle danse sur les pointes et habite son rôle par tous les pores de la peau, mais parce qu’elle le chante avec une aisance, une virtuosité et des couleurs qu’on ne connaît à aucune autre aujourd’hui. Cette femme doit venir d’une autre planète”

Le Figaro, Christian Merlin, 23 October 2012

“Barbara Hannigan is Warlikowski’s Lulu, and the production seems built around her. Who else would look this good in nothing but lingerie and pointe shoes while singing each note with such crystalline perfection?”

Financial Times, Shirley Apthorp, 16 October 2012

“Happily, too, the new production has an outstanding Lulu in the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, whose spot-on accuracy and pure, bell-like tone have made her a darling of contemporary composers while also qualifying her for Handel and Mozart. Her sound is not as weighty as that of other successful Lulus, yet it superbly conveys Lulu’s irresistible allure. Ms. Hannigan’s physique is ideal, too, and although there is simulated sex, I’ll remember more fondly seeing her stretched out languidly on a leather bench, wearing a slinky dress, red wig and sunglasses and looking supremely bored while men fought over her.

As long as Ms. Hannigan is on stage, Mr. Warlikowski can do no, or very little, wrong. Perhaps because of her remarkable talent as a dancer, even en pointe, Mr. Warlikowski makes classical ballet a big part of the action” (…)

The New York Times, George Loomis, 24 October 2012

Krzysztof Warlikowski unleashes an iconoclasm of the unconscious in Berg’s “Lulu” in Brussels – with Barbara Hannigan as a cool and powerful role debutante

“…But all the ramifications and conceptual knots burst when Barbara Hannigan in the title role boards the stage (the reconstructed three-act version by Friedrich Cerha is being performed) and makes it her very personal arena and battle ground for the next four hours. Because this Lulu does not exude charm, yes, not even eroticism, although she mostly performs with a perfect astral body wearing little more than scant lingerie. Hannigan/Lulu does not want to seduce or conquer – she is just herself: A naughty child that bickers off the cuff and stamps her feet in little ballet shoes; the shrewd naivety that spreads her leads when she feels like it and quite casually wraps a bundle of men around her slender fingers.

Hannigan played this role with staggering physicality, is always frighteningly powerful and present; a libidinous leach on the men’s bodies and brains who lionize her like stupid moths. And the question arises, if it is also part of the concept that she denies her voice just this libido. Always masterful in the intonation even in the most bold stage scenes her coloratura soprano, however, remains cool like shimmering platinum. And even in the “Lied der Lulu” from the second act that phrases the essence of her homicidal abandon and was included by Alban Berg in the Lulu-Suite; even in this hymn of doom by solitude Hannigan does not bank on emotion or even pathos, but rather on clearly drawn contours.

The rest of the ample cast appears less individually distinctive (understandable considering Hannigan’s overpowering presence) …
…Lulu herself is one these aerial beings that hover about en pointe with their almost translucent bodies (Barbara Hannigan does even this surprisingly well) while attracting the men with Lolita tenderness and pushing them away again like a brat.”

Opernwelt, Michael Struck-Schloen, December 2012

Breathtaking
The Canadian Singer Barbara Hannigan delivers a brilliant performance as Lulu at the Brussels Opera

“And there is Barbara Hannigan. Someone, who through her appearance alone rejects all lofty affectation about her stage work. The 41 year-old is a bundle of discipline, determination and energy. Someone, who intuitively knows of perdition and death and knows altogether of everything, which can befall a woman – and always acts with tremendous physicality. When Hannigan runs into walls as she must in Alban Berg’s Lulu in Brussels, she does not slow down in front of the wall but rather accelerates. When she dances pointe, which she does extensively during this evening, she masters it perfectly. And when she sings “He has overcome it” (“Er hat es überstanden”), quasi gracefully, after the murder of Dr. Schön in the second act, she makes a swan neck, closes her eyes and gently puts her head back as if the words and notes were trickling down her throat like her murdered lover’s still warm blood. Her soprano then sounds more sensuous than elsewhere in this role debut, richer, more mature.
(…)
But the intensity with which Hannigan confronts the audience, the absolute equality, which she establishes of singing, dancing and acting especially, creates a new quality (…)

Hannigan’s Lulu is neither serpent nor mythical seductress, but rather someone who was lost amongst men and human beings from the beginning. Who must die. And who does not resist anything else, desperate and with a basic seething anger, which makes her hiss, lash out and even kick. And strains her body to the breaking point in empty space. (…)
And Lulu alias Barbara Hannigan, it’s alter ego, leans on the proscenium and watches so intently as if she actually still had something to learn.” (referring to Lulu watching the “Black Swan” dance at the end of act one)

Die Zeit, Christine Lemke-Matwey, 18 October 2012

“Anytime there is anything hazardous to sing in new and newest music Barbara Hannigan is on the scene. The Canadian soprano does not seem to know limitations when hitting notes, even outlying notes and the flexibility of her silvery crystal clear voice is unrivalled.
(…)
Time and again Barbara Hannigan stands on the tips of her toes and dances in the manner of a ballerina. Her bodywork in general is downright acrobatic. That she can also sing so magnificently at the same time is almost a miracle.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Peter Hagmann, 19 October 2012

“Musically it’s superb. Barbara Hannigan gives everything she’s got and then some to the title role.”

Guardian, Tim Ashley, December 2014

“Et puis il y a la bombe Hannigan, nouvelle incarnation fascinante de Lulu par son côté protéiforme : la souplesse d’une liane, l’élégance d’une vraie danseuse, la multiplicité des visages, des physiques même, de l’enfant gracile à la pouffe défaite, tout est chez elle naturel et percutant. Et la voix est merveille, qui se joue des pyrotechnies et des intervalles avec un charme qu’on ne connaît à personne.”

Radioclassique France, December 2014

“And she [Lulu] is a sensation: The Canadian soprano must be every Lulu director’s dream. She is a vocally sovereign miracle of a performer. So girlishly seductive and femininely confident, so jaded and not quite of this world, so obsessed with sex and in need of love, so much devil and angel in one: No one currently personifies this more convincingly. And it seems neither blatant nor vulgar when she grabs the painter (Tom Randle) at the crotch, spreads her legs or displays her charms to Geschwitz. One believes that her life is at the same time a frenzy and a curse. She is a darkly sparkling diamond and adorable. She alone is worth the trip to Brussels.”

Frankfurter Rundschau, Joachim Lange, 16 October 2012

“Through Barbara Hannigan she [Lulu] gains not only a brilliant stature and an expert pointe dancing performer but also a superlative voice in the high regions. (…) But overall the interaction between the highly nuanced orchestral performance and the well-toned, initially scantily clad performing protagonist yields a singular theatre event. Barbara Hannigan embodies an “earth spirit” (Erdgeist) that slips into different human characters in different social situations: The finest element to have come out of Pandora’s box.”

Neue Musikzeitung; Deutschlandfunk, Frieder Reininghaus, October 2012

“In this scene Warlikowski indeed uses a dancer although I am almost certain Barbara Hannigan, the performer of Lulu, could also have interpreted this with equal intensity. Because Barbara Hannigan not only sings the part of Lulu with unbelievable ease and perfection, she astounds with a dance performance, which might well be unsurpassed, an unrivalled body control and a breathtaking theatrical presence.”

BRF (Belgian German Language Radio), Hans Reul, 16 October 2012

“She is standing on pointe shoes, singing stratospherically high. An unrelenting performance by Barbara Hannigan. She will convince anyone, even those that aren’t fans of 20th century music. Her artistic achievement and her physical committment are unmatched.”
Cobra.be, 19 October 2012

“Barbara Hannigan in the role of Lulu accomplishes the feat of satisfying all of these psychological demands brilliantly remaining credible while at all times. She dances pointe, leaps acrobatically like a deer, sings like an angel and fights like a man.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Eleonore Büning, 16 October 2012

“It is hard to imagine a more disturbing and more credible Lulu than Barbara Hannigan, in her self-sacrificing interpretation and with her ethereal and ingenious singing. Her psychodrama of the dying swan was fascinating and moving. She mastered the balancing act between technical acrobatics and psychological depth with her bright shining soprano, the linear control of her voice and with a charismatic timbre.”

Das Opernglas, Marc Fiedler, December 2012

The Swan is Dead
Barbara Hannigan Shines in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Lulu Production at the Brussels Opera

“What a broad! It is as if one had to wait for this debut to experience all of the facets of this figure for the very first time. Barbara Hannigan sings Alban Berg’s Lulu at the Théâtre la Monnaie in Brussels. To say Barbara Hannigan merely sings would not be nearly sufficient to describe the vexing synthesis of all the means of theatrical expression with which Hannigan creates a personage that is everything: Lulu (in the sense of Wedekind, endangering every bourgeois peace), Lilith (who is spoken about in the English prologue) a little bit of Lolita as well, but not too much.
(…)
Hannigan dos not have the largest voice but it is always present, space-filling. Harsh in the first act, fragile at the end, full of deep promise, never frivolously cooing, at least throughout the first half much too dangerous to make anyone think of playful seduction. (…)

In all this Hannigan always makes clear she is playing a part. She is not Lulu but personifies anything and everything in her. Her seemingly undaunted pragmatism lets her attempt all possible means of performance. This alone would a challenge for a pure actress. Barbara Hannigan is infinitely inquisitive. She is apparently not content with conventional solutions. The 41 year-olds website lists 75 world premieres.
Hannigan’s corporeality is tremendous. On the one hand she is very beautiful – something one can verify well enough as her Lulu often wears nothing but lingerie. On the other hand she writhes on the ground or on various furniture in modest dedication, runs across the stage, slams into walls without slowing down and dances pointe. A white swan.
(…)
The Black Swan is only one of many aspects the director Krzysztof Warlikowski adds to the main figure. Ostensibly this would not be necessary because Barbara Hannigan unites almost all conceivable facets of this female figure in her singing and acting. She does this in an almost disturbing manner, because every time when one thinks one can form a conclusive opinion of the figure, she dazzles in a different colour of psychological nuance. As much as Warlikowski’s production needs Hannigan, it also serves her uninhibited expressive purpose.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Egbert Tholl, 20/21 October 2012

“But the sensation of this production is Barbara Hannigan. The Canadian soprano must be every Lulu director’s dream. She sings and dances pointe. She is a vocally sovereign miracle of a performer. So girlishly seductive and femininely confident, so jaded and not quite of this world, so obsessed with sex and in need of love, so much devil and angel in one: No one currently personifies this more convincingly. And it seems neither blatant nor vulgar when she grabs the painter (Tom Randle) at the crotch, spreads her legs or displays her charms to Geschwitz. One believes that her life is at the same time a frenzy and a curse. She is a darkly sparkling diamond and adorable. She alone is worth the trip to Brussels.
(…) This Lulu is a directorial and musical hit. And Barbara Hannigan has again proven her pre-eminence as a performing singer.”

Online Musik Magazin, Joachim Lange, 18 October 2012

The Rest is Noise Series
Royal Festival Hall, London
BERG’S Lulu Suite

“To Berg’s Suite, the soprano Barbara Hannigan added her personal presence in the later movements in such a way as to transform the performance into a semi-staging. She made her belated entry unexpectedly from stage left, smokily and slinkily, scantily clad, a Lulu to a T. It wasn’t only musical theatre, but musical bliss: the top register spine-tinglingly in tune, the articulation breath-taking, and her subsequent assumption of the Countess Geschwitz role no less riveting.”

The Sunday Times, 05 May 2013

“But the main event began during the second piece, as the extraordinary Barbara Hannigan strolled on, lounged against a wall like a high-heeled hooker at a bus-stop, then prowled through the orchestra as though searching for prey. This Canadian soprano’s stage presence is always mesmerising whatever she does, but when she shook off her furs – revealing a skimpy nightdress – to begin ‘Lulu’s Song’, the physical provocation was both compounded and counteracted by the coloratura purity of her singing (and by the psychopathic innocence of her song). Her concluding number – fifteen heartfelt words from her fictional lesbian lover – had comparable impact.”

The Independent, 29 April 2013

“Barbara Hannigan was the compelling soprano soloist in the vocal movements, giving London just a tantalising taste of the performance she gave in the much-admired Brussels production of Lulu earlier this year.”
“It was an exceptional concert, thoughtfully planned and delivered with tremendous accuracy and intensity.”

The Guardian, 30 April 2013

“And this performance had a Lulu who embodied, visually and vocally, the strange, deadpan detachment of this most ambivalent heroine: Barbara Hannigan, in negligee, fur coat and six-inch heels, slinking round the band before singing the songs – top D flats and all – with mesmerising languour.”

The Times, 29 April 2013

“Barbara Hannigan, the pre-eminent Lulu of our day.”
“What an extraordinary concert.”

The Arts Desk, 28 April 2013

“Barbara Hannigan’s street-walked impersonation stopping awhile for ‘Lulu’s Song’, her inspiring vocal magnetism fearlessly matching Berg’s considerable demands. […] Quite honestly, this performance was quite something.”

Classical Source, 29 April 2013


She is a vocally sovereign miracle of a performer.
So girlishly seductive and femininely confident, so jaded and not quite of this world,
so obsessed with sex and in need of love, so much devil and angel in one.Frankfurter Rundschau