"Sometimes I forget we’re singing because it all seems so real," is how Rachel Nicholls describes her part in Scottish Opera’s new production of The Flying Dutchman.
The English soprano, who has been tipped by The Times as one of the names to watch in 2013, takes on the role of the obsessive and headstrong Senta in the Scottish interpretation of Richard Wagner’s tumultuous libretto.
And director Harry Fehr has moved the story of Senta and the Flying Dutchman to the Scottish coastal community in the production which tours Glasgow’s Theatre Royal and Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre until April 19.
Rachel explained why this production is so unique: “The Flying Dutchman is a romantic German opera with supernatural elements which could so easily seem remote from our day-to-day experiences.
“Wagner is about as operatic as we get with a huge orchestra and emotive music. But our production with its gritty setting and its emphasis on the very human love story between the Dutchman and Senta, and the way the community reacts to these troubled characters makes this a story which everyone can relate to.
“Senta is eccentric, romantic, passionate, idealistic and intensely loyal. She is obsessive and headstrong and has an acute empathy with the Dutchman.
“It has been very challenging but incredibly rewarding. I've really enjoyed getting to know her during the weeks of rehearsal.”
The story centres on Senta a young girl who fanatically daydreams about a picture of the Flying Dutchman, a tormented soul cursed to roam the seas with his ghostly crew until he finds a woman who will love him until death.
When Senta’s father meets a charismatic stranger caught up in a storm, his daughter’s fixation becomes uncomfortably real.
Baritone Peteris Eglitis is The Dutchman, bass Scott Wilde takes on the role of the Donald (Daland), Julian Galvin steps into the character of Georg (Erik) while Nicky Spence sings the part of Donald’s steersman.
The company’s first foray into Wagner in ten years coincides with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Rachel said: “I have always enjoyed working with Scottish Opera, but this experience has been extra special.
“The Flying Dutchman is a wonderful opera.
“Maestro Corti is making magic with the orchestra. Harry Fehr is one of the most exciting, dynamic directors around.
“If you're a seasoned opera fan then come along to see Wagner performed in a real, tangible, biting way that enhances the glory of the music. If it's your first opera then it's a fantastic choice.
“It's full of drama, passion, wonderful singing and playing but ultimately believable and something that will haunt you for a long time after the curtain comes down.”
Performances of the Flying Dutchman start at 7.15pm on Saturday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 9 at the Theatre Royal. Dates at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre include Saturday, April 13, Tuesday, April 16 and Friday, April 19. For more information go to Scottish Opera’s website.