Soprano Barbara Hannigan Conducts Sir Simon Rattle
by Melissa Wimbish
Okay, bitch. You’re just going to be perfect at everything, aren’t you?:
There are singers who push themselves to the limit and then there is Barbara Hannigan. The Canadian soprano has not only stormed the world of modern classical music by breezing through extremely difficult scores, but she also acts and conducts… sometimes at the same time. Check out on YouTube her performance as the dominatrix police chief in Ligeti’s ‘Mysteries of the Macabre’ – it’s an extraordinary piece of multitasking, which she modestly shrugs off. ‘I thought I would start off with something simple,’ she giggles.
The conducting has been a recent advance and, never doing things by halves, last month she conducted Sir Simon Rattle as he narrated William Walton’s ‘Façade’ with players from the Berlin Philharmonic. ‘That was pretty fun,’ she says. ‘It was his idea. What I loved was that for him the big risk was to do the speaking. He was really nervous, but did a fantastic job. For me, the risk was: “I can’t believe you asked me to conduct players from the Berlin Phil while standing beside you.”’