Lulu_glitterElodie Olson-Coons at Music and Literature:

During one of her performances of György Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, she shuffles around in black latex and fishnets, sucking her teeth, ululating. When she starts, unexpectedly, to conduct, her hand gestures are as clean and brutal as her singing. In Hans Abrahamsen’s orchestral song cycle Let Me Tell You, she trembles—voice glass-thin—with the heartbreak and bewilderment of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Her hands soar with the orchestra in Ligeti’sConcert Românesc; she punches cymbals and brass into the final sforzando. In the title role of Berg’s Lulu, she roars and trills en pointe, in lingerie, in sequins, wielding a handgun. As Marie in Bernd Alois Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten, she makes of herself a slack puppet mouthing crystalline bel canto, a victim, a whore. Leading Fauré’s incidental music for Pélléas et Mélisande, she caresses the sound into being as much with her eyes as with her fingertips. In Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest, as witty, innocent Cecily, she delivers line after line of shatteringly precise high notes. As Agnès in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, she croons and shivers with soft lust and terror—in the final scene, she eats her lover’s heart, staring blankly into the audience.

She conducts, she dances—no. She strides, she leaps, she spits out chewing gum, she flings herself against men and glass doors. She sings—no: she weeps, she bellows, rough and liquid and staccato all at once.

This physicality, this corporeal engagement with her art, is part of what makes a Barbara Hannigan performance so remarkable.

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