Who is she?
A svelte blonde soprano with a voice of steely clarity and staying power. She spent the first decade of her career focused on Baroque music but is now moving impressively into the Wagnerian repertory.
Isn’t Wagner terribly difficult to sing unless you’re one of the fat ladies?
“Well, you have to be fearless, but so long as you keep your nerve, it’s not as hard as everyone thinks,” Nicholls says. “However, I do make a point of wearing sensible shoes to keep me grounded, and drinking herbal tea in my dressing room to keep my throat lubricated. I’m also hugely fortunate to be coached by one of the greats, Dame Anne Evans, who is a fount of wisdom and experience.”
And what about the Baroque repertory?
“I’ve had a lovely time singing it, but I never felt it came naturally to my voice. I always secretly felt that Wagner was my musical destiny and that seems to be the way it’s moving.”
Where can I hear her?
Nicholls is about to sing Senta in Harry Fehr’s new production of Der fliegende Holländer for Scottish Opera.
Who is Senta?
“Basically I see her as a hopelessly romantic teenager with a gigantic crush on a man she has never met,” says Nicholls. “And she’s got a sort of death wish, too, which makes the final tragedy almost uplifting.”
First comes more Wagner, when she sings Brünnhilde in the Ring cycle at Longborough Festival in June and July. Then she’s getting married to bass Andrew Slater — after which she hopes for some time at home in the Peak District, where she loves to relax by rambling over the moorland.