Born and brought up in Canada, the soprano Barbara Hannigan received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Mary Morrison. She continued her studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with Meinard Kraak, and privately with Neil Semer.
A frequent guest of the Berlin Philharmonic, she has also performed with most of the other leading orchestras and ensembles on both sides of the Atlantic, and with conductors including Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Reinbert de Leeuw, Vladimir Jurowski, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Alan Gilbert, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. She made her conducting debut at the Châtelet in Paris, with Stravinsky’s Renard in 2010. Her most recent and upcoming engagements include concerts with the WDR, the Sainte Cécile Academy, and the Gothenburg Symphony. Much sought after in contemporary music, she has given over 75 world premieres.
Her operatic repertory includes the role of Agnès in Written on Skin by George Benjamin, which premiered at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in July 2012 before being performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Lulu by Berg at the Monnaie de Bruxelles. She sang the title role in Stravinsky’s opera Le Rossignol, Gepopo/Venus in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, Armida in Haendel’s Rinaldo, and will perform the roles of Donna Anna, Melisande, and Marie (Die Soldaten). Mysteries of the Macabre, a tour de force for soprano and orchestra, has become a signature work, which she has sung – and sometimes also conducted- at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, and at the Salzburg Festival.
Barbara Hannigan is also well known for her talent in programming. She was the co-curator of the recent festival “The Rest is Noise” at Southbank Centre, based on the eponymous book by Alex Ross. In 2011, she began an exceptional European tour of Boulez’ Pli selon pli under the baton of the composer.