Barbara Hannigan aims to change Concertgebouw vibe

Barbara Hannigan aims to change Concertgebouw vibe


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2022

The Canadian soprano and conductor will make her Concertgebouw debut next week.

From the press release:
The concert on Thursday, 1 December is a compact, intimate Late Night programme without interval, in which the audience will be seated on cushions on the floor of the Concertgebouw’s Main Hall. The orchestra will perform Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Claude Vivier’s Lonely Child featuring Aphrodite Patoulidou. The Greek soprano will also be performing a Greek lullaby, accompanying herself on the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish string instrument.

On Friday 2 and Sunday 4 December Strauss and Vivier will be part of a more regular concert with interval, which will also feature Samuel Barber’s Mutations from Bach and Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto with soloist Vilde Frang. The programme is a musical voyage of ‘memory, loss, solitude, youthful innocence and coming of age’, in Hannigan’s words.


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Um cushions? Why? I could get down but would have to be hauled to my feet by a random person. Weird. What’s wrong with seats?

  • Couperin says:

    I keep wanting to know, how’s Hannigan’s conducting? I know she’s a genius singer, like for real, and her musical repertoire is vast. But seriously.. anyone work with her?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Is seating on the floor new to the Concertgebouw?

    To me this seems like an idea that is touted as new easily for the last 50 years. For instance, Boulez did it with the NYPO in the 70s.

  • DannyBoy says:

    Miss Hannigan? She’s never been the same since she left Annie.

  • Hadenough says:

    One more idiotic reason live audiences are waning. As always, self implosion is coming soon.

  • Frank says:

    There were ‘sleeping bag concerts’ in the Amsterdam concertgebouw back in the 1970s. So this idea is just another example of doing dumb things all over again.
    The idea is (or used to be) that concerts are too formal and confining. However, people have been going to the concertgebouw ‘as they are’ for decades now. The Concertgebouw is part of Amsterdam city life and people go to a concert on their bikes or in ‘tramline 3’.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      The “buttoned up” enviroment can attract musically uninterested socialites, but doesn’t deter music lovers, I think. I’ve often seen underdressed people at formal settings, even back in the 1970s, when dress code was far stricter.

  • Ernest says:

    I remember in the good old days, we had the Midland Bank Proms at the Royal Opera House and we sat on the floor in the Stalls enjoying the performances. Rudolf Bing and his wife turned up for a performance of Manon and he was quite loony then and had to be helped up from the floor. Sorry I digressed …

  • Tim says:

    It’s not her Concertgebouw debut.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Why the disgruntlement in the comments? The same program — and more — is being performed twice in normal concert format; nobody is being forced to the floor cushions. If the informal concert format — and the repertoire! — attract new audiences, why not use them? If they fail to do so, no music lover will have been inconvenienced by the attempt.