We discovered her magnificent voice in 2018, while she performed a spectacular Donna Anna at the Royal Opera in London. Rachel Willis-Sørensen now triumphs throughout the world’s greatest Opera houses, and is about to debut as Valentine (Les Huguenots) and as Alcina.
France will have the opportunity to welcome her this Monday at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (with Jonas Kaufmann), in March 2020 (for her « Instant Lyrique »), and finally at the Opéra de Bordeaux in May/June 2020.Photos : Olivia Renaud / Simon Pauly
Can you tell us about what decided you to sing and about your debut ?
For as long as I can remember, I have felt that being a singer was a part of me. Even before I knew about it as a profession, I had it as an identifier. Aside from covers and comprimario roles, my real debut was singing Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit. This was the first role I sang professionally. I remember being so passionate about telling the story !
Next March, you will sing your first recital in Paris. Can we find out more about the planned programme ? Do you have other projects in France ?
Actually, my French debut was recently moved up to Monday, January 20th as I join Jonas Kaufmann on tour at the Théâtre-des-Champs-Elysées ! Then, I will be returning to sing my first solo recital in France as part of the L’Instant Lyrique series, on March 16th. My recital repertoire will be a mixture of songs and arias including some Strauss songs, Sibelius songs, Rusalka‘s « Song to the Moon », a couple of English songs – which were written for one of my heroes, Renée Fleming – and a few surprises !
I am also singing at Opéra national de Bordeaux later this season, where I will perform Contessa and Donna Anna as part of the Mozart / Da Ponte Trilogy. And a little exclusive announcement : I am also super excited to be making my role debut as Violetta in La Traviata at Opéra national de Bordeaux next season. I have been dreaming of singing that role for a long time !
How would you define your voice at this moment of your career ?
Well, I am certainly a soprano, but I don’t necessarily define myself in the traditional Fach system. I think the longevity of the voice is improved by choosing diverse (within reason) repertoire, and I enjoy making role choice on an individual basis. My voice is the most effective tool I possess for communicating the burning message inside of me, so the characters are an important part of role selection for me.
In next February you will make your debut in the very demanding role of Valentine / Les Huguenots. Can you tell us more about this project and about your collaboration with Marc Minkowski ?
Maestro Minkowski and I first worked together in the summer of 2018 at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and I found it to be a fascinating and fruitful musical experience. I am looking forward to creating a cohesive musical product with him as I tackle this new repertoire.
Valentine is very challenging vocally, and demands the engagement of all of my vocal faculties – high notes, low notes, coloratura ! She is also very emotional, and I can’t wait to explore this heightened drama.
Another role debut for you this season will be Alcina at the Dresden’s Semperoper. Would you like to sing more baroque music or with period instruments ?
I am looking forward to making my debut as Alcina, and am especially enjoying composing my own ornaments. I have not come to a conclusion on whether I would like to add more Baroque music to my repertoire … let’s see !
Another highlight will be Verdo’s Vespri Siciliani this summer at the Salzbourg Festival. Will it be your first time there ?
Yes, it is my debut, and the fulfillment of a long treasured dream.
What are your other main projects today ?
There are some very exciting projects and role debuts coming up that I am working on, but I can’t share with you yet ! I feel very lucky to experience many thrilling roles first-hand in the coming couple of seasons, and take you along with me via social media.