Barbara Hannigan as Ophelia Glyndebourne

World premiere of Hamlet at Glyndebourne


In her first appearance at Glyndebourne, Barbara is Ophelia in the highly anticipated world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet.

Reviews from Glyndebourne’s production of Hamlet, David Karlin, 12 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Those characters were performed by a truly exceptional cast, the most exceptional of all being Barbara Hannigan as Ophelia. In her mad scene, which became the centrepiece of the whole opera, she had everything. Vocally, she could hit ferociously difficult rapid fire peaks and swoops, or smooth the voice into heart-melting lyricism. She looked young and beautiful in the classic “English rose” mould. And her acting was completely persuasive, the most convincing depiction of a person becoming unhinged that I’ve ever seen on an operatic – or perhaps any – stage.”

Limelight Magazine, Clive Paget, 13 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Barbara Hannigan, one of the most touchingly delicate, physically accomplished Ophelias I’ve seen on any stage. Browbeaten by her brother, and put down by her father, she’s ready to break from the start, her inevitable descent conveyed through voice and body language. Her warm, nimble soprano darts high and low with impeccable diction and attention to words and their meanings. Her mad scene, clad in little more than a mud-spattered tailcoat, was a master class in maintaining line while physicalizing a shattered psyche.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Michael Stallknecht, 21 June 2017

“Die kanadische Sopranistin Barbara Hannigan verleiht Ophelia den Reiz der Kindfrau, die in der Wahnsinnsszene nicht nur darstellerisch Akrobatisches leistet. Brett Dean hat ihr hier Irrsinnskoloraturen in die Kehle komponiert, mit denen Hannigan durch drei Oktaven jagen und fast irreale Pianoflötentöne in Stratosphärenhöhen zeigen darf.”, Laurent Bury, 24 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Quant à la distribution, saluons d’abord la star internationale qui faisait ses débuts in loco : Barbara Hannigan est idéale en Ophélie, la musique et la mise en scène lui permettant d’exprimer peu à peu le trouble qui s’insinue dans son esprit, pour culminer avec une scène de la folie où le compositeur a su mettre en valeur sa facilité dans l’aigu et où, quasi nue, elle livre une prestation extrêmement physique.”

The Guardian, Erica Jeal, 12 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Sarah Connolly is on excellent form, all tiaras and condescension and cracking veneer as Gertrude, and Hannigan’s spectacular high-soprano unhinging is the more shocking following her poise and inwardness as Ophelia earlier on.”

The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 12 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Vladimir Jurowski returns to Glyndebourne to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra with his customary laser-like intensity, and the cast is vocally exemplary, with stellar performances from Allan Clayton acting his socks off in the title-role, Barbara Hannigan an eerily glamorous Ophelia and John Tomlinson tripling up as the Ghost, Player King and Gravedigger.”

The Spectator, Richard Bratby, 17 June 2017

“The whole opera feels like an extended mad scene, quite apart from Ophelia’s set piece wig-out in Act Two — as stylised in its trilling, gargling, chest-beating vocal writing as anything by Donizetti, and deliveredby Barbara Hannigan with showstopping bravura.”

Australian Book Review, Michael Halliwell, 13 June 2017
(5 out of 5 stars)

“Opposite him is Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, one of the most versatile and highly regarded singers in contemporary opera, also with a burgeoning conducting career. The role of Ophelia, in the various versions of the play, has little more than 150 lines; Hamlet has more than ten times this amount. However, all the operatic versions understandably expand this role to provide a strong vocal and dramatic foil to the prince. Hannigan has an almost balletic physical presence, and Dean demands equivalent vocal acrobatics from her, although not to the same extreme voice-breaking extent as Adés’s Ariel. Most operatic versions have Ophelia’s madness as a musical high point, and Dean does not disappoint. Drawing on operatic tradition which demands coloratura pyrotechnics, Hannigan triumphantly negotiates these challenges while performing extreme physical manoeuvres. She fully matches Clayton dramatically and musically.”

Stage Noise, Caroline Baum, 16 June 2017

“the star of the show on the evening I attended, soprano Barbara Hannigan. …
As for Hannigan, she is the most touching and captivatingly mad Ophelia I have ever seen, hurling herself into her final scene with simultaneous wild physical abandon while singing dazzlingly high notes with total vocal control and dramatic conviction. There is something poignant and ironic about the weeds she pulls apart in the ordered bucolic setting of an opera house in the exquisite countryside of East Sussex, with its manicured croquet lawn, complete with a sign urging patrons not to picnic there. Though down by the dam she might have found a few crow flowers, thistles and daisies and one could easily imagine her drifting in its green, cloudy waters, her dress tangled in the roots of the water lilies blooming there. She acts her guts out and unlike many wan Ophelias, she lingers in the mind well beyond the performance.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine, Gina Thomas, 15 June 2017

“Ähnlich refrainartig wird Hamlets Versicherung eingesetzt, dass Ophelia niemals an seiner Liebe zweifeln dürfe. Bei Shakespeare liest Polonius diese schriftliche Beteuerung vor. Dean gibt Ophelia diese Zeilen. Er komponiert aus dem „Never doubt“ ein zartes, verzweifeltes, immer wiederkehrendes „Never, never, never“, das die ganze von Barbara Hannigan mit choreographischer Körperlichkeit und nervösen Sprüngen in fast koloraturhafte Höhen grandios dargestellte Fragilität Ophelias erfasst.”

Independent, Cara Chanteau, 13 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Barbara Hannigan everyone’s go-to mad soprano was suitably deranged in Ophelia’s near naked mad scene”

The Sydney Morning Herald, Susan Shineberg, 13 June 2017

“Barbara Hannigan’s jaw-dropping portrayal of Ophelia’s piteous uncoupling from sanity and Sarah Connolly’s tragically foolish Gertrude provided some of the opera’s most heart-wrenchingly beautiful moments. The repetition of Ophelia’s lament of “never, never, never …”, for example, drifts through the sonic tapestry of this latter section like river weed, to be finally assimilated into the heartbreaking ending.”, Marc Valencia, 12 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“The opera’s new dynamic allows Barbara Hannigan’s courageous charting of Ophelia’s decline to shake the soul”

Daily and Sunday Express, 14 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Barbara Hannigan was delicious and remarkably lithe as Ophelia”

Financial Times, Richard Fairman, 12 June 2017
(4 out of 5 stars)

“Barbara Hannigan’s Ophelia delivers one of her charismatic show-stoppers in the mad scene.”

photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith

Hamlet in photos