Based on the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, the German musical Rebecca tells the dark tale of an unnamed young woman (referred to simply as “Ich” meaning “I” or “Me”) who marries a man she meets while on holiday. Upon returning to his stately home, Manderley, she finds the oppressive memory of his recently deceased wife, Rebecca, everywhere. Though most of the staff treat her with respect and are pleased that she is less demanding than the former Mrs. de Winter, the imposing Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca’s former employee and confidant, is always reminding the main character that Rebecca’s drowning does not change the fact that the house belongs to her and always will.
Mrs. Danvers, as we quickly learn, is devoted to Rebecca even after death and has kept Manderley in the exact state it was in when Rebecca was still living. Mrs. Danvers doesn’t simply inform the new Mrs. de Winter that she cannot live up to her predecessor; she insists that Manderley itself still calls for Rebecca and that her return from the misty realm of the dead is a certainty. Despite our main character’s insistence that the dead have no way of affecting the living, she is clearly unnerved by Mrs. Danvers’s unshakable belief in Rebecca’s presence. Mrs. Danvers may not be wrong in this belief, as Mrs. de Winter notices that her new husband seems preoccupied with his late wife and that every room in the house holds more than an echo of its previous owner.