Barbara gave her final performance of the calendar year in Gothenburg earlier this month, so we are taking the opportunity to look back at some of the highlights from an incredible 2018!
2018 got off to a flying start with a GRAMMY award for Crazy Girl Crazy, Barbara’s debut album as soprano and conductor. The album continued to pick up awards in 2018 including a Klara Award (Belgium) for Best International Classical CD and a JUNO Award (Canada) for Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral. Released on Alpha Classics, Crazy Girl Crazy featured works by Berg, Berio and Gershwin with the Amsterdam-based orchestra LUDWIG.
Barbara sang in three world premieres this year: George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence (London’s Royal Opera House and Amsterdam’s Dutch National Opera), Michael Jarrell’s Bérénice at Opéra national de Paris, and John Zorn’s Jumalattaret in Lisbon together with pianist Stephen Gosling. Later in the fall, they premiered the piece for Dutch audiences at November Music in Den Bosch.
press from Lessons in Love and Violence:
The New York Times: “In the queen, Mr. Benjamin has created another remarkable role for Ms. Hannigan’s immense vocal gifts and comprehensive musicianship.”
Classical Source: “Barbara Hannigan is thoroughly at home; and she is so damned watchable as an actress, let alone a singer. She reveals a wife, a queen, a mother, and a lover; add to which an attention to detail in matters other than musical. Given her thrilling and effortlessly agile, soaring voice, she is nevertheless careful not to unbalance the broader dramatic and musical design of the whole.”
press from Bérénice:
Financial Times: “Barbara Hannigan gives her considerable all in the title role, as always with laser precision and an athleticism that borders on unnerving.”
Bachtrack: “In the title role, the splendid Barbara Hannigan embodies the voice of passion and gives free rein to her emotions with agile and voluble phrasing.”
In 2018 she sang the title roles in the remount of two productions: Lulu, a highly physical production directed by Christoph Marthaler at the Staatsoper Hamburg, and La Voix humaine directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski at Opéra national de Paris. Le chateau de Barbe Bleue / La Voix humaine was released on DVD in 2018.
Announced in April, Barbara was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, the National Orchestra of Sweden. Her appointment will commence in the 2019-2020 season for an initial period of three years. In December she made her opera conducting debut in Gothenburg with the orchestra, conducting three semi-staged performances of The Rake’s Progress with singers from Equilibrium Young Artists.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music presented Barbara the prestigious Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts in October at a ceremony held in Stockholm.
She is one of four individuals to win the prestigious Swedish award this year. The other Laureates include Saharon Shelah (Logic and Philosophy), Ronald Coifman (Mathematics) and Andrea Branzi (Visual Arts).
Upon receiving the award Barbara announced she would donate the prize money to her mentor initiative, Equilibrium Young Artists.
Equilibrium Young Artists officially launched in 2018, with 21 participants hand-selected by Barbara and with whom she is working intensively on Mozart’s Requiem, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Equilibrium’s first concerts were with the Gothenburg Symphony this December.
Dagens Nyheter: “Opera conductor Barbara Hannigan triumphs with the “The Rake’s Progress” in Göteborg in an original new concept.”
Ojai Music Festival blog: “The production was over the top in its power and meaning, and the singing and acting by the unique Gothenburg cast from EQ simply the best I have ever heard in this opera, both individually and also as an ensemble. … The sheer energy, ensemble and vocal art of all of these young performers was totally captivating.”
EQ’s first intensive workshop retreats took place this year in Amsterdam and Paris, which included rehearsals as well as workshops addressing preparation, stamina, focus, mistake recovery and peak performance, factoring in not only the onstage challenges but the day to day aspects of developing a successful and satisfying career. Guest conductors, experienced musicians and directors, casting directors as well as promoters joined the workshops for inspiring and honest Q & A sessions. Yoga teacher Phyllis Ferwerda designed a course specifically for the EQ team, and Friendly Eyes coach Jackie Reardon worked with the group each day.
In 2018 Barbara gave masterclasses throughout the year, including at Trinity Laban and the National Opera Studio in London, as well as later in the year in Canada at Dalhousie University at the Fountain School of Performing Arts.
One of the highlights of 2018 was the release of Vienna: Fin de Siècle with longtime collaborator and mentor, Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw. On this new recording, the duo explores the roots of modern music with composers who went on to lead a musical revolution: Arnold Schoenberg, Hugo Wolf, Anton Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler and Alban Berg. Vienna: Fin de Siècle presents a vision of Vienna at the height of late Romanticism, when music was at its most lush and decadent, at the edge of tonality and full of voluptuous beauty.
To accompany the release of the album, a series of music videos was featured on Apple Music.
Vienna, Fin de Siècle has received widespread acclaim and was been featured on many “Best of 2018” lists this month.
The Times: “Barbara Hannigan and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw cast a spell with Vienna: Fin de Siècle”
Télérama (ffff): “En empathie musicale et amicale, attentifs au sens autant qu’à la sensibilité de chacune de ces pièces, Hannigan et de Leeuw nous font (re)découvrir un petit théâtre sensuel et raffiné.”
Financial Times: “Hannigan, with her angelic voice, is always ready to go where other angels fear to tread.”
NPR Music: “With painter-like touches, pianist Reinbert de Leeuw excels in every searching harmony, every lonely pause between notes.”
Throughout the 2018/2019 season Barbara joins four different European orchestras to bring one of her signature pieces, Hans Abrahamsen’s let me tell you, to major concert houses throughout Europe. She began her let me tell you season tour with five concerts in Germany and Austria with the Bamberger Symphoniker and conductor Jakub Hrůša this past fall.
Her 2019 will start in London with performances of let me tell you at Barbican Hall with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra. Following London, a series of conducting engagements are scheduled for January and February, including Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, The Cleveland Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.