Chilling new opera inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of greed and compulsion

A chilling tale of greed and compulsion by Robert Louis Stevenson gets the operatic treatment from composer Stuart MacRae and novelist Louise Welsh.  The Devil Inside, their new work, jointly commissioned by Scottish Opera and Music Theatre Wales, is a contemporary reading of Stevenson’s short story The Bottle Imp.

In The Devil Inside MacRae and Welsh have created a contemporary take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s unsettling tale whilst preserving the chilling, queasy qualities of the original. The story turns on a bottle with the power to grant the heart’s desire – but there’s a catch: you can only sell it for less than you paid for it, and, if you die while owning it, your soul goes straight to hell.

James uses the bottle to get all he ever dreamed of, and then sells it. Happily married to Catherine, he feels his life is complete…until an awful discovery begins to unravel their life together, with devastating consequences.

As the price of the bottle gets lower, a dangerous game of pass-the-parcel ensues. Greed, despair, unconditional love and a fear of death can force people to take drastic measures in their attempts to trick fate…

The opera comes to RNCM, Manchester on Tuesday, February 16 at 7.30pm and features a fine cast of singers, including former RNCM student Nicholas Sharratt who now sings regularly with opera companies worldwide.

Composer Stuart MacRae and novelist Louise Welsh are both well known in their respective fields. Stuart MacRae has been commissioned by the BBC, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta amongst others, and Louise Welsh is the author of a string of successful novels including The Cutting Room, The Bullet Trick and, most recently, Death is a Welcome Guest.  Their collaboration on the one-act opera Ghost Patrol  – an earlier joint venture between the Scottish Opera and MTW – won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Opera in 2013, and was nominated for an Olivier Award.

The Devil Inside is conducted by MTW’s Joint Artistic Director and Music Director Michael Rafferty with The Music Theatre Wales Ensemble.

The team behind MacRae and Welsh’s Ghost Patrol returns for The Devil Inside – director Matthew Richardson, designer Samal Blak and lighting designer Ace McCarron – and is joined by a strong ensemble cast including tenor Nicholas Sharratt (who was seen in Ghost Patrol 2012), mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly, baritone Steven Page and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Ben McAteer.

The Devil Inside is performed at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music on 16 February 2016.  Tickets £15.