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Barbara Hannigan



Barbara Hannigan in action.
Christopher Purves as the Protector and Barbara Hannigan as Agnès in Written on Skin, The Royal Opera © ROH/Stephen Cummiskey, 2012

Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan made her Royal Opera debut in 2013 as Agnès (Written on Skin), a role she created and which she reprises in the 2016/17 Season.

Hannigan was born in Halifax and studied at the University of Toronto, the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Banff Centre. She is renowned for her work in contemporary music and has given more than eighty world premieres. She has received particular acclaim for her interpretations of Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre and Dutilleux’s Correspondances. Other composers with whom she has worked closely include Abrahamsen, Boulez, Benjamin, Barry, Dusapin and Sciarrino. Her many role creations include the title role in Hosokawa’s Matsukaze, Madame X (Barry’s La Plus Forte), Lei (Dusapin’s Passion) and Alice (Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground). Other opera roles include Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Lulu, Elle (La Voix humaine), Marie (Die Soldaten), Gepopo (Le Grand Macabre) and Cecily Cardew (The Importance of Being Earnest) . Her many awards include 2013 Opernwelt ‘Singer of the Year’.

As a conductor, Hannigan has worked with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. She has held artist residencies with the Gothenburg and Bamberg symphony orchestras.


News and features

Opera Essentials: <em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em>

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4 March 2016

Our quick introduction to Gerald Barry’s bonkers and brilliant adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s much-loved comedy.

The Importance of Being Barry

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7 June 2013

A look at the Importance of Being Earnest composer's brilliant and bizarre back-catalogue.

Listen: The cast and creative team speak about Written on Skin

Listen: The cast and creative team speak about Written on Skin

1 March 2013

George Benjamin, Martin Crimp, Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves on the opera.