Barbara Hannigan is named principal guest as orchestra sheds its past

Barbara Hannigan is named principal guest as orchestra sheds its past


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2018

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra has named the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan as one of two principal guest conductors from next season. The other is the expensive Christoph Eschenbach.

Even more noteworthy is that two past music directors – Neeme Jarvi and Gustavo Dudamel – will not be returning next season.

The roster of new guest conductors includes Simone Young, Han-Na Chang and Joana Carneiro. The music director is the boyish-looking Finn, Santtu-Matias Rouvali.

Gothenburg has a record of making maverick picks.





  • Comprimaria says:

    Wouldn’t label Eschenbach as a “maverick pick” exactly…

  • Siegfried says:

    ‘the expensive Christopf Eschenbach.’

    Have you proof that Miss Hannigan’s salary is a less fancy one?

    • Caravaggio says:

      I am willing to bet it is. If I were her or her agent I would insist on proof. So back to Netrebko. It’s not solely about sexual abuse, as bad and wrong as that is, but about using sex as a power trip over others. The consequences? Unequal (lower, much lower) pay for women (or men, if they were the ones harassed), roles denied, career advancement stifled, blacklisting, and down from there. Some investigative reporter ought to research this topic in the world of classical music and opera. And then publish. People will be aghast.

    • José says:

      You can’t be serious.

      Actually, you can. But won’t. Typical.

      • Siegfried says:

        Now, Gladys….do ditch the simpering archness and oh so knowing hoked up outrage.
        Give us the fees of both Eschenbach and Hannigan, or don’t you know them?
        Oh, dear….another silly hoax?

  • David R Osborne says:

    She is an extraordinary talent.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    Amazing woman. Lucky Gothenburg. If Toronto had any nadz, they appoint her MD.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m not in a position to know what Eschenbach gets, but clearly it’s something that his management and the orchestra can negotiate. If he’s asking too much, they can always say no; nobody is putting a gun to their heads to book him. And based on the half-empty house I saw when he conducted in Stockholm 2-3 weeks ago, I’d suggest that his fee isn’t justified by capacity houses.

    BTW, I was really impressed with Rouvali when I saw him conduct the Goteborg SO the other week (in Stockholm).

    Hannigan as Toronto MD; now that sounds intriguing. Never mind the gender; she’s still a very active singer; does she have the broad repertoire that’s needed for the job?

  • Trofim says:

    This is absurd, but a concomitant of the prevalent obsession with identity politics. But why concentrate on a limited number of human characteristics – race, sex, sexual orientation? Just because they are currently high profile in our society, being bigged up at every opportunity?
    Human beings differ on numerous parameters, most of them having some significance in terms of advantage / disadvantage. For instance, there is ample evidence that attractive people have better life chances, earn more money etc than unattractive people, as do intelligent people in comparison with the unintelligent. So if you are going to go down the route of favouring disadvantaged people, there should logically be quotas for unattractive – all right “ugly” – and unintelligent – all right “stupid” people. Where do we stop?
    I personally am of Worcestershire stock with an accent to match – one associated with having a straw in one’s mouth and mucking out the pigs. In my life it has been very disadvantageous – when I opened my mouth in the London people fell about laughing. If it had existed, I would have availed myself of the services of a counsellor specializing in rusticophobia. By rights there should be a country bumpkin quota, but I can’t see it happening for people of such low social prestige.

  • Trofim says:

    I’m afraid I entered my previous comment on the wrong article. Please remove it from this location, and I will post it on “Women, disabled and BME composers get two ticks”

  • Jens says:

    Why in the world would an orchestra like Gothenburg hire Christoph Eschenbach as a principal guest conductor? What a foolish and artistically uninteresting idea. Eschenbach is long past his prime, rumoured to be obsessed with money and wanting the highest fees that he can. Looking at his recent past performance with orchestras he has been associated with, it is extremely doubtful that he will do anything to improve the profile of the Gothenburg Symphony, beyond costing them a lot of money, imposing his collection of unheard of soloists and not really putting much heart and soul into the orchestra. Orchestras should stop looking for old “names” and show that they have vision and want their orchestras to grow and develop a profile. I don’t think that Gothenburg will be doing anything like that with somebosy like Eschenbach as a principal guest conductor. Sad story for Gothenburg and for Swedish music lovers.