Barbara Hannigan (born 1971) is a Canadian soprano and conductor, and one of the world's leading performers ofcontemporary opera
Hannigan is particularly renowned for her performances of contemporary music. Her advocacy of contemporary music began in her youth, and she sang her first world premiere at the age of 17. As of 2011, she has premiered approximately 75 contemporary compositions. These include One by Michel van der Aa (2002), the song cycle Auf der Suche nach meinem Gesicht by Friedrich Cerha (2007), and La plus forte by Gerald Barry (2007), which the composer wrote specifically for Hannigan. Hans Abrahamsen wrote the symphonic song cycle let me tell you for Hannigan.
She is particularly noted for her performances of György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, and in 2011, she began to conduct the work in addition to singing the vocal part. Her work in contemporary opera has included singing in the premieres of Louis Andriessen's Writing to Vermeer, Gerald Barry's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and The Importance of Being Earnest, Jan van de Putte's Wet Snow, Kris Defoort's House of the Sleeping Beauties, and George Benjamin's Written on Skin. She has worked with choreographer Sasha Waltz on productions of Hosokawa’s Matsukaze and Dusapin’s Passion. Hannigan received critical acclaim for her performance in Alban Berg's Lulu, which included dancing on pointe. In 2014, Hannigan sang the role of Marie in Bernd Alois Zimmermann's opera Die Soldaten at the Bavarian State Opera, a production that was streamed live on the internet.
Hannigan regularly performs in concert as both soprano and conductor. She has worked with the Göteborgs Symphoniker, Prague Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Avanti Chamber Orchestra, l'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Britten Sinfonia and Gulbenkian Orchestra. She won the Ovatie 2014 award for her performance as soprano/conductor with her conducting debut at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam with the Ludwig Orchestra