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Barbara Hannigan (born 1971, Halifax, Nova Scotia) is a Canadian soprano, and one of the world's foremost performers of contemporary opera.Hannigan's initial musical education came from the music teachers in her hometown of Waverley, Nova Scotia where, as Hannigan herself noted: "Every household had a piano, so I just got into music and singing."After growing up in Waverley, Hannigan moved to Toronto at the age of 17. She studied music at the University of Toronto, where her teachers included Mary Morrison. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1993 and a Master of Music degree in 1998. She continued her studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival, and the Centre d’arts Orford. She also studied for one year at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where her teachers included Meinard Kraak. Other teachers have included Neil Semer.Hannigan is particularly renowned for her performances of contemporary music. Her advocacy of contemporary music began in her youth, and she sang her first world premiere at the age of 17. As of 2011, she has premiered approximately 75 contemporary compositions. These include One by Michel van der Aa (2002), the song cycle Auf der Suche nach meinem Gesicht by Friedrich Cerha (2007), and La plus forte by Gerald Barry (2007), which the composer wrote specifically for Hannigan. She is particularly noted for her performances of György Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, and in 2011, she has begun to conduct the work in addition to singing the vocal part. Her work in contemporary opera has included singing in the premieres of Louis Andriessen's Writing to Vermeer, Gerald Barry's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and The Importance of Being Earnest, Jan van de Putte's Wet Snow, Kris Defoort's House of the Sleeping Beauties, and George Benjamin's Written on Skin. Her commercial recordings in contemporary music include the premiere recording of Henri Dutilleux's Correspondances (Deutsche Grammophon) and Louis Andriessen's Writing to Vermeer (Nonesuch), music of Luca Francesconi (Kairos) and of Harry Freedman (Centrediscs). She is also featured on four Naxos recordings of vocal works of George Frideric Handel, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Gideon, Rinaldo, and Tobit.Hannigan is married to the Dutch theatre director Gijs de Lange. The two of them worked together on stage in a production of The Mikado in 2006. The couple lives in Amsterdam.