Based on Strindberg’s play The Stronger, Barry’s 20-minute opera has a cast of one. ‘Hannigan rattles off the machine-gun word-setting with aplomb,’ enthused The Guardian about her mastery of Barry’s hugely testing monologue.
Benjamin’s darkly disturbing opera won the BBC Music Magazine Premiere Award back in 2014. Reviewing the work’s UK premiere, our critic Helen Wallace described Hannigan, playing Agnès, as ‘mesmerising’, adding that the soprano ‘generates, controls and luxuriates in her own eroticism’.
The Danish composer made full use of Hannigan’s extraordinary range in writing this song cycle, which tells the story of Shakespeare’s Ophelia from the character’s own perspective. ‘Hannigan embodies Ophelia with unconditional claim and leads her soprano effortlessly from deep depths to the highest heights,’ wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung of a performance last year.
‘She could easily wreck a fleet of ships if she so desired,’ wrote the Financial Times about Hannigan’s alluring performance in this Homer/Joyce-inspired work for soprano and orchestra. ‘Her theatrical energy, her effortless heights and unearthly precision all become part of a seductive whole.’