Margaret Hopkins, who is completing an Honours degree in Mathematics and Statistics and a Bachelor of Music at Acadia, is the 2021 recipient of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Award for her scholarly work, “Control Freak: Power dynamics and subversion in Barbara Hannigan’s performances of György Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre.”
Hopkins argues that Hannigan subverts gendered expectations of women classical musicians to claim a role traditionally occupied by male conductors. Her project focuses on two of Hannigan’s most recognizable costumes: her black patent leather outfit, reminiscent of a dominatrix; and her “naughty schoolgirl” outfit. These outfits both embody specific power dynamics that subvert the audience’s understanding of the ways in which female classical musicians present themselves onstage and, in the case of her dominatrix outfit, confound traditional criticisms of women conductors.
Hannigan approaches this subversion in a way that is consistent with the spirit in which Ligeti wrote Le Grand Macabre, which was itself simultaneously a rejection of modernist opera and a parody of traditional opera.
The objective of the CFUW Award is to recognize excellence in Women's and Gender Studies scholarship and to give students the opportunity to showcase their work. For more, please visit the CFUW Award page.