Nova Scotia

N.S. opera singer receives 3rd Grammy nomination

Nova Scotia opera singer Barbara Hannigan is celebrating this week after earning her third Grammy nomination.

'I was super thrilled when I found out,' Barbara Hannigan says

Barbara Hannigan says she spent most of the opera holding a fake gin and tonic and an e-cigarette. (Stephen Cummiskey/Royal Opera House)

Nova Scotia opera singer Barbara Hannigan is celebrating this week after earning her third Grammy nomination.

Hannigan is up for best opera recording in Lessons In Love and Violence.

"I actually I had no idea that this album was even up for nomination so I was super thrilled when I found out," she said in an interview on Friday with CBC Nova Scotia News at 6.

While the soprano performs around the world, growing up in Waverley, N.S., is never far from her mind.

Barbara Hannigan as Isabel, Stéphane Degout as King and Gyula Orendt as Gaveston in Lessons in Love and Violence. (Stephen Cummiskey/Royal Opera House)

"The things that were kind of ingrained in me from a really young age in Nova Scotia, through my music teachers and through my parents and Nova Scotia Choral Federation, summer camps ... were like discipline, joy for work and a really strong work ethic. And that's what I learned as a child and that's what I still do," she said from Munich, Germany where she is performing next month.

"I mean sometimes it seems far if you're playing in a big fancy opera theatre, but I'm doing what I've done since I was a kid."

'It was kind of depressing'

In Lessons in Love and Violence, she plays Queen Isabella of France, who is married to the King of England at a young age. When the king starts a relationship with someone else, the story takes a dark turn.

"I spend most of the opera with a gin and tonic in my hand — fake gin and tonic because I have to sing — and a cigarette in my mouth which was also a fake cigarette.

"It was like an e-cigarette, but I really tried to learn how to smoke it beautifully so that it would add to the atmosphere of the character. But it was kind of depressing to play. In the end it was really enjoyable because I think we did a great job."

Barbara Hannigan plays Queen Isabella of France. (Stephen Cummiskey/Royal Opera House)

She said it is the second opera composer George Benjamin has written specifically for her voice.

"There's a particular note that's really one of my special notes and he uses that really beautifully," Hannigan said. "He gives his feeling of what I can possibly be vocally and then I give it back to him, in a new way. So it's really a beautiful kind of way of collaborating."

Her latest Grammy nod comes on the heels of her 2018 win for Best Classical Vocal Solo for Crazy Girl Crazy.

The awards will be handed out in January in Los Angeles.

MORE TOP STORIES

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.