Barbara Hannigan sings and conducts La Voix Humaine


New production with video artist Denis Guéguin includes Strauss’ Metamorphosen
Following her triumph in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s unforgettable production of La Voix Humaine at Opéra de Paris (2015, 2018), Barbara Hannigan creates a new interpretation of Poulenc’s Elle, this time in the double role of singer and conductor. 
Joining Hannigan is video artist Denis Guéguin for an original production made for the concert hall, involving both live video and pre-recorded film, in which we see the character of Elle, caught in her own fantasy, lead the orchestra. An unorthodox conducting technique adds to the powerful psychological drama.
Poulenc’s tragédie lyrique revolves around Cocteau’s tale of a woman at the height of heartbreak, in desperate isolation, obsessed and rejected: a woman seemingly caught in a world between fantasy and reality, a woman on the edge of survival. Directly preceding La Voix Humaine is the melancholy of Strauss’ Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings. The same “Elle” who sings and conducts Poulenc, leads Strauss’ solemn reflection on transcendance between the worldly and the other-worldly. 
For Barbara Hannigan, the major new project follows such seminal roles as the eponymous lead in Alban Berg’s Lulu, Mariein Die Soldaten and Agnès in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin. Hannigan comments: “This performance is the culmination of a life of training. Elle has been a significant role for me as my career has evolved, and we now see an Elle who sings, an Elle who conducts. The theme of transformation runs throughout the programme on many levels, as we confront issues such as ageing, deterioration, decadence, loss and disintegration. I had always thought that Elle’s forays into fantasy, delusion and control, made La Voix Humaine a highly possible sing-conduct performance..”
The evening is presented as a dramaturgical whole and premieres at Paris’ Maison de la Radio with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France on 6 and 7 January 2021, following an open rehearsal at Le Centquatre-Paris on 15 December and ahead of future performances with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (29 and 30 January); Danish National Symphony (13-14 May) and Munich Philharmonic (dates TBA).

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