The English soprano, Rachel Nicholls, read French and Linguistic Science at the University of York, furthering her studies with Kathleen Livingstone at the Royal College of Music, where she won the President's Rose Bowl for the Most Outstanding Student of the Year. She also won the Second Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Competition, the Cuthbert Smith Prize, the Lies Askonas Prize and the Van Someren Godfrey Prize for English Song.
One of the most outstanding young sopranos recently to have emerged in the UK, Rachel Nicholls combines a warm lyric voice with outstanding musicianship and command of several languages. She is equally at home in opera, oratorio or recital., and has a huge repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel to Arnold Schoenberg and Errollyn Wallen.
Rachel Nicholls made her début at London’s Royal Opera Covent Garden as Third Flowermaiden in Parsifal under Sir Simon Rattle, returning as Pepik The Cunning Little Vixen under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Prilepa The Queen of Spades under Valery Gergiev and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos under Antonio Pappano and Sir Colin Davis (for the revival). She created Philippa in John Browne’s Babette’s Feast for the Royal Opera House at the Linbury Studio Theatre. Other operatic engagements have included First Niece in Peter Grimes, Jenifer in The Midsummer Marriage and Shepherd in Tannhäuser at the St Endellion Festival Philippa Babette's Feast at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Frasquita in Carmen, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and Flora in The Knot Garden for Scottish Opera, the title role in Erismena, Ginevra Ariodante and Elisa in Tolomeo for English Touring Opera, Miss Schlesen Satyagraha for English National Opera, Dorinda in Orlando for the Atelier Lyrique, Tourcoing, Theophano in Ottone and Metella in Silla at the London Handel Festival, the title role in G.F. Handel's Susanna for The Early Opera Company, Bella in Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? for Almeida Opera, Fiordiligi Così fan tutte for Longborough Festival Opera, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for Mid Wales Opera, Elettra Idomeneo for New Sussex Opera, Junon in Platée for T.C.C. Productions, Lisbon, and Jessie Mahagonny Songspiel at the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte, Montepulciano.
Rachel Nicholls possesses a considerable concert and oratorio repertoire. She made her international début singing Messiah under the direction of Sir David Willcocks in Halle. Other concert appearances include performances with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra (at the Proms 2008), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Darmstadt Hofkapelle, The Hanover Band, London Handel Players, London Mozart Players, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestra of St John’s, Smith Square, Le Parlement de Musique, Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as well as at the Brighton, Chelsea, Fishguard, London Handel, London Presteigne and Gloucester's Three Choirs Festivals, and at Bath Abbey, St James's Piccadilly, St John’s Smith Square, and the Royal Albert Hall. Conductors with whom she has worked in opera and concert include Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Martin Gester, Richard Hickox, Sir Simon Rattle, Steven Sloane and Masaaki Suzuki. She has sung recitals at the Wigmore Hall, at the Linbury Studio Theatre of the Royal Opera House and on BBC Radio 3.
Recent engagements have included the world premiere of William Lloyd Webber St Francis of Assisi at the Chelsea Festival, concerts in France with Le Parlement de Musique, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Nielsen Symphony No. 3 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard, and her debut with Bach Collegium Japan under Masaaki Suzuki in Messiah in Tokyo. She has also taken part in the world premiere of three new song cycles commissioned for her by John McCabe, Cecilia Macdowell and David Matthews at the Presteigne Festival and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Stabat Mater with The Hanover Band.
Rachel Nicholls' broadcasts include J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with Le Parlement de Musique and Dorinda Orlando with La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy for Radio France and Sally Flashmob - The Opera, A. Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2 with the Quatuor Parisii and In Tune for the BBC. Her recordings include J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan (BIS), Metella in Silla with James Bowman from the 2000 London Handel Festival (Somm). Hummel's Mass in D Minor with Sir Richard Hickox and Collegium Musicum 90 (Chandos), Music by Cecilia McDowall (Dutton) and Paul Spicer’s Easter Oratorio (Birmingham Bach Choir).
Current engagements include Marzelline in L.v. Beethoven's Fidelio for London Lyric Opera, Joan in For You for Music Theatre Wales, Wendy in Peter Pan (Leonard Bernstein) at the Festival Rota dos Monumentos, Portugal, further performances as Ginevra in Ariodante and Elisa in Tolomeo for English Touring Opera, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Armida in Rinaldo at the Edinburgh Festival 2009, Nerone in L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the New Theatre, Tokyo, J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232), J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (arranged Felix Mendelssohn) and G.F. Handel's Messiah with Bach Collegium Japan, Jauchzet Gott with Bach Collegium Japan in Edinburgh and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London and Minneapolis, L.v. Beethoven's Mass in C with the Bochum SOrchestra, L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival, Hereford, The Kingdom in King’s College, Cambridge, the Nelson Mass at the St Endellion Festival, Haydn Il ritorno di Tobia with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Judas Maccabaeus at the Gdansk Music Festival, Robert Schumann's Requiem with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Szymanowski Stabat Mater for Huddersfield Choral Society, an Opera Gala with the Mikkeli City Orchestra and and Sir Roger Norrington’s 75th Birthday Concert with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.