Robert Hugill

Rachel Nicholls sang the role of Isolde at Longborough in 2015 and will be returning to Grange Park Opera at West Horsley Place in 2017 to sing Sieglinde in a new production of Wagner's Die Walkure. She is a relatively slight figure with a bright, focussed and dynamic voice which does not so much ride the orchestra as cut through it. Not since Gwynneth Jones (whom I heard in the role at Covent Garden in 1982) have I heard a performance which brought out Isolde's anger in Act One. Nicholls was every inch the princess, completely commanding and positively quivering with rage at what was happening making her curse quite thrilling. At the end of the opera, Nicholls crowned things with a rapturous account of the Liebestod her voice cutting effortlessly through the orchestra, bringing a sense of vibrancy to the vocal line and an intensity to her performance. Throughout the evening there was an incredible sense of the presence of Nicholls' Isolde, this was an engrossing performance vividly projected.