Toby Spence


Toby Spence has sung with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Paris Opera, English National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Real, Madrid, Theater an der Wien, and the Hamburgische Staatsoper, and at the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence and Edinburgh festivals.

On the concert platform he works with Sir Simon Rattle, Andris Nelsons, Thomas Adés, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Semyon Bychkov.

Engagements for the coming season include Captain Vere in the Teatro Real’s new production of Billy Budd and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Liceu Barcelona. In concert, Toby will appear with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony..

This is for information only and should not be reproduced. Please contact Imogen Lewis Holland for a full biography and for performance details

Read More >

News & Features


The Tempest/ Ferdinand

Candide/ Candide

Billy Budd / Captain Vere
Curlew River/ Madwoman
Rape of Lucretia/ Male Chorus
Turn of the Screw/ Peter Quint

Iphigénie en Tauride/ Pylades

Faust/ Faust

Acis and Galatea/ Acis
Hercules/ Hyllas

Il ritorno d’Ulisse/ Telemaco

Così fan tutte/ Ferrando
Don Giovanni/ Don Ottavio
Idomeneo/ Idomeneo
Die Zauberflöte/ Tamino
La Clemenza di Tito/ Tito

La belle Helene/ Paris 

Die Fledermaus/Eisenstein

R STRAUSS:                               
Die Schweigsame Frau/ Henry Morosus

The Rake’s Progress/ Tom Rakewell

Hamlet/ Laertes

Falstaff/ Fenton

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg/ David

Read More >

Media Player


    Szymanowski Symphonies (Valery Gergiev, LSO)


Teatro Real Madrid, MADRID

BRITTEN 'Billy Budd'

Conductor: Ivor Bolton

Billy Budd: Jacques Imbrailo
Mr. Redburn: Thomas Oliemans
Lieutenant Ratcliffe: Torben Jürgens
Red Whiskers: Christopher Gillet
Dansker: Clive Bayley
Novice: Sam Furness
Squeak: Francisco Vas
Bosun: Manel Esteve
First Officer: Gerardo Bullón
Second Officer: Enrique Sánchez-Ramos
Novice's Friend: Borja Quiza
Arthur Jones: Isaac Galán

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real

Teatro Real Madrid, MADRID

BRITTEN 'Billy Budd'

Conductor: Ivor Bolton

Billy Budd: Jacques Imbrailo
Mr. Redburn: Thomas Oliemans
Lieutenant Ratcliffe: Torben Jürgens
Red Whiskers: Christopher Gillet
Dansker: Clive Bayley
Novice: Sam Furness
Squeak: Francisco Vas
Bosun: Manel Esteve
First Officer: Gerardo Bullón
Second Officer: Enrique Sánchez-Ramos
Novice's Friend: Borja Quiza
Arthur Jones: Isaac Galán

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real

Teatro Real Madrid, MADRID

BRITTEN 'Billy Budd'

Conductor: Ivor Bolton

Billy Budd: Jacques Imbrailo
Mr. Redburn: Thomas Oliemans
Lieutenant Ratcliffe: Torben Jürgens
Red Whiskers: Christopher Gillet
Dansker: Clive Bayley
Novice: Sam Furness
Squeak: Francisco Vas
Bosun: Manel Esteve
First Officer: Gerardo Bullón
Second Officer: Enrique Sánchez-Ramos
Novice's Friend: Borja Quiza
Arthur Jones: Isaac Galán

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real

Royal Festival Hall, LONDON

J.S. BACH St Matthew Passion, BWV 244

Conductor: David Hill

Christ: Matthew Best
Soprano: Sarah Tynan
Baritone: Roderick Williams

Bach Choir

Load More


The Road Ahead
Ashutosh Khandekar / Opera Now / November 2013
Click here to read article

An introspective journey
John Allison / The Sunday Telegraph / 5 May 2013
Click here to read article

Toby Spence on his role in Eugene Onegin
Neil Fisher / The Times / 12 November 2011
Click here to read interview

Spence sings his first Lensky at ENO this month
Roger Pines / Opera Magazine / November 2011
Click here to read the article

Read More >


In addition to his busy singing career, Toby - with his brother Magnus - has launched an exciting recital series in Wardsbrook, East Sussex. The concerts take place in a beautifully converted Tudor barn in the heart of the Sussex Downs. The series in 2013 features four wonderful recitalists - Stéphane Degout, Sarah Connolly, Sir Thomas Allen and Christiane Karg - along with the accompanist Malcolm Martineau, with all the proceeds of the events going to St. Michael's Hospice in Hastings. For information on the Wardsbrook concerts please click here

To listen to Toby talking about Wardsbrook on Radio 4, please click here

Read More >




Garsington Opera

"The central casting is impressive, led by a star performance from Toby Spence, whose vividly voiced, internally conflicted Idomeneo is consistently involving..."

"Toby Spence shines as the conflicted Cretan king in a mixed-period staging."
The Stage/George Hall
"Tenor Toby Spence is at the height of his powers just now, and his Idomeneo suffers the pangs of Abraham in a performance of gorgeous vocal colours and tortured theatricality. A ravishing, hitherto unsuspected baritonal quality suffuses his voice at times, while his agility in set pieces is breathtaking. A Peter Grimes in the making? He certainly looks the part." What's on Stage/Mark Valencia
"We do, though, need the king's final aria as a crowning glory for Toby Spence's magnificently tortured protagonist...a terrible intensity... mingled with realisation that the boy must be the sacrifice to Neptune, "Fuor del mar", gets the best deal since the heyday of Anthony Rolfe-Johnson - it was a decorative stretch too far for Philip Langridge, whose natural successor this tenor now turns out to be - and Spence engages both baritonal timbre and true tenorial upper-register ring in it without any obvious gear-changes." The Arts Desk/David Nice
"From the moment he rolled on to the stage, exhausted by shipwreck, Toby Spence’s Idomeneo was a sympathetic, fallible King of Crete, his earthy tenor achieving a moving delicacy in the opera’s closing scene of abdication and celebration." Florra Wilson/The Guardian
"Among an exceptionally strong cast, Toby Spence is wonderful in the title role, singing robustly and movingly portraying a father’s anguish as he faces losing his son through his own actions." Tim Hughes/The Oxford Times
"But among some very real tragedy — the echoes of the refugee crisis lightly sounded in Hannah Clark’s deft designs, Toby Spence’s Idomeneo wracked with all the self-doubt and conflicting urges of a Peter Grimes — there’s real joy to be found."

"his (Spence's) Idomeneo is a rich psychological portrait, all the more interesting for its unusual vocal colouring. Still a lighter, higher-lying tenor than we might associate with the role (though growing in weight and interest each season), Spence works this rangy quality to his advantage. His huge set-piece ‘Fuor del mar’ has an edginess that’s strategically deployed: musical loveliness sacrificed for dramatic truth."
Alexandra Coghlan/The Spectator

What makes this production so notable is that it is straightforward and never silly. Part of the credit for this belongs to the editing, and the rest to the truly excellent cast, led by tenor Toby Spence in the title role, who acts the piece with the seriousness it merits.

Arts Journal/ Paul Levy

Toby Spence has regained all the beauty his singing possessed before throat surgery and his heart-broken Idomeneo is a tour de force.

Independent i/Michael Church

Toby Spence made quite a youthful Idomeneo, vigorous and virile whilst reacting to the events around him with fiery intensity. His voice has developed in depth and strength, and he drew on this to bring interesting colours and drama into his performance, so his handling of the recitative was profoundly expressive. Overall it was a remarkable performance, sustained in its passion yet elegant in outlines and with a real strength at its core. The role made you wonder what other roles Spence might develop.

Planet Hugill/

It's all rather gloriously sung: by Toby Spence's sovereign Idomeneo, sounding full recovered from his recent thyroid cancer and delivering his bravura aria Fuor del mar, with panache.

The Sunday Times/Hugh Canning

Johann Strauss II

Die Fledermaus

Metropolitan Opera, NY

“Toby Spence’s firm, light tenor made him an agreeable Eisenstein” NY Classical Review/Eric C. Simpson
“The appealing cast includes the robust tenor Toby Spence”  Anthony Tomassini


The Dream of Gerontius

Royal Albert Hall/BBC Proms/Vienna Philharmonic

"Toby Spence was ideal as the Soul of Gerontius, catching the way his fear and unknowing give way gradually to hope."
The Telegraph/Ivan Hewett
"Spence’s emotional conviction carried this plausibly fragile and flawed Gerontius successfully to his maker." The Arts Desk/Alexandra Coghlan
"Toby Spence delivered the title role with a beautifully-projected sweetness of tone."
The Independent/Michael Church
"Toby Spence, a tenor of unbridled lyricism and boldness, made the most of Gerontius’s urgent Sanctus fortis, and, after the climactic brass outburst, found anxious release in the final “Take me away, and in the lowest deep/ There let me be"
The Guardian/Fiona Maddocks


The Dream of Gerontius

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Vasily Petrenko, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

"Tenor Toby Spence, on his second tour of duty with the RLPO in three months, offered an easy, expansive and powerful performance in the central role of Gerontius."
Catherine Jones, Liverpool Echo, 13 June 2015
"Dream of Gerontius is an absolute triumph. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s closed their 175th season with a sublime and bold performance of Elgar’s oratorio." The Guardian, Alfred Hickling, 16 June 2015


Die Zauberflöte

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

"Toby Spence is in equally fine voice for his first Covent Garden Tamino, a role he assumed some years back in Nicholas Hytner's lamented ENO production. The tenor's plangent singing helps add a missing third dimension to what must surely be Mozart's most lamely characterised leading man."
Mark Valencia, Whats On Stage, 24 February 2015
"Every inch the fairytale prince, Toby Spence delivers a clean and elegantly sung Tamino. He is partnered by the US soprano Janai Brugger ... and like Spence she looks the part as well as proving a fluent actor."
George Hall, The Guardian, 24 February 2015
"Toby Spence, a veteran Tamino, was at last singing the role at Covent Garden, and here he was in heroic, lyrical full voice, eloquent in the passion of ‘Dies Bildnis’ and phrasing the music with effortless grace – he is the ideal truth-seeker."
Peter Reed, Classical Source, 23 February 2015
"Toby Spence proved an ardent Tamino, a little darker-hued than we often hear, and certainly none the worse for that."
Mark Berry, Seen and Heard, 24 February 2015
"Toby Spence, veteran of English National Opera’s long-running Flute, is a natural Tamino"
Graham Rogers, The Stage, 24 February 2015
"It was great to hear Toby Spence in heroic voice as Tamino, ardently sung and sympathetically acted"
Mark Pullinger, Bachtrack, 24 February 2015
"Everybody in this latest cast has a reason to be there. At its head is Toby Spence’s Tamino, who is at once aristocratic and boyish, and sings with bright polish (and clear words — thank you)."
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 24 February 2015


The recovery position

Cancer hasn't halted the career of the tenor Toby Spence

Please click on the link below to read article. Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 22 February 2015


Die Zauberflöte

Metropolitan Opera, New York

"Toby Spence sang Tamino with a pleasing, robust tenor. He showed a welcome willingness to leave well enough alone in the utterly simple opening lines of “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön,” allowing his voice to build up in ardor and depth over the remainder of the aria. He was excellent in “O ew’ge Nacht,” where his voice meshed beautifully with those of the men’s chorus over halting dark strings."
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim / New York Times / 8 October 2014


War Requiem / BBC Proms, 21 August 2014

Royal Albert Hall

"Lending a sharp emotional edge to the solemnity were the three soloists, who were ideally matched. Susan Gritton was delicately tender in the Lacrimosa (am I the only person who hears a touch of Gershwin in this piece?). Tenor Toby Spence and bass Hanno Müller-Brachmann were unaffectedly hearty during the poem about sharing a meal with Death, and in the final dialogue of the two dead soldiers they held us spellbound. The silence after the final chord felt as if it would never end." The Telegraph / Ivan Hewett / 22 Aug 2014
"Owen’s angry verses were given plangent expression by Toby Spence, fixing notes with bitter, opaque tone before warming them with vibrato." London Evening Standard / Barry Millington / 22 August 2014
"Owen's poetry had committed advocates in soloists Toby Spence and Hanno Müller-Branchmann. Spence's plaintively sweet-toned tenor touched the heart with "One ever hangs where shelled roads part". The Observer / Stephen Pritchard / 24 August 2014
"Toby Spence’s appreciation of poetic form and expression was evident from the first phrase of ‘What passing-bells’, which interrupted the choir’s promise of eternal rest with impact but without undue melodrama. Spence’s every word was clear, even those lines which were articulated almost as a whisper. He vibrantly lifted Owen’s words from the page, and sang with affecting emotional commitment" Opera Today / Claire Seymour / 22 August 2014


Serenade for tenor horn and strings: 19, 20, 21 June 2014

San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas, Davies Symphony Hall

"the other star of the performance, tenor Toby Spence cast a spell over the hall ... Spence's open-throated, gorgeous singing revealed a thrilling mastery of the difficult combination of floating high notes and resounding chest notes. Having beat thyroid cancer a few years ago, the tenor's voice and artistry are their peak."
Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice, 20 June 2014
"The tenor for last night’s performance was Toby Spence, singing with a thorough understanding of each of the six poems Britten had set."
Stephen Smoliar,, 20 June 2014
"Certainly the Serenade, which has not been heard in Davies in more than 20 years, got the performance of a lifetime from tenor Toby Spence and the Symphony's principal hornist, Robert Ward. Crystalline, witty and full of tender, mysterious emotion, this was a reading that brought out every nuance and every bit of majesty in the score. ... Spence boasts all the clarity of tone and diction that made Britten's partner, the tenor Peter Pears, an ideal interpreter of his music - but in addition to those qualities, he sings with a combination of vigor and warmth that contrasts with the slight chill of Pears' virtuosity."
To read full article please click here
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 June 2014


Die Fledermaus: 27 April 2014

Philharmonia Orchestra/John Wilson, Royal Festival Hall, London

"Toby Spence was a wide-eyed, supple-voiced Eisenstein, revelling in the farcical business"
Mark Pullinger,, 27 April 2014

CD: Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin/Sarah Connolly/Toby Spence, Royal Festival Hall

"Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in 2011, it finds the tenor Toby Spence in ringing voice for the demanding Drinking Song, which he delivers as effortlessly as the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich. He makes light work of Of Youth, while the forced jollity of The Drunkard in Spring comes across forcefully." Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 29 September 2013

CD: Szymanowski Symphonies Nos 3 & 4; Stabat Mater

Valery Gergiev/Toby Spence/Denis Matsuev/Simon Halsey/London Symphony Chorus/London Symphony Orchestra, LSO Live

"Toby Spence impresses with his ardent delivery of the taxing tenor part" 
Barry Forshaw, Classical CD Choice, 12 September 2013


The Dream of Gerontius

Gloucester Cathedral

"Toby Spence, apparently fully recovered from throat surgery, looks an unlikely old man close to death, but his clean lyric tenor seems to have found new reserves of heft"
Hugh Canning, 11 August 2013

Britten 'Serenade for tenor, horn and strings'; Zev Gordon 'The Gleam of Hidden Skies', 13 July 2013

Cheltenham Town Hall

"a fine performance of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, featuring tenor Toby Spence"

Rian Evans, The Guardian, 15 July 2013

Britten, War Requiem: 25 June 2013

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner, St Paul's Cathedral, London

"Toby Spence sang his “Dona nobis pacem” with the purity of a choirboy"

Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 26 June 2013
"Toby Spence, back on tremendous form after recent illness, beautifully captured Britten's pacifist anger in the tenor solos."
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 26 June 2013
"Rhythmic rigour and a sense of despair focused Toby Spence’s tenor"

Hilary Finch, The Times, 27 June 2013

Gloriana: 20 June 2013

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

"Toby Spence makes a credibly sympathetic figure of the solipsistic Essex, full of a vigorous vitality which is undermined by maudlin melancholy. After serious health concerns, Spence is almost back to his best. Albeit weak and unpredictable, Essex’s devotion to the Queen is not in doubt. By turns tender, ebullient and defiant, Spence’s Essex is petulant, querulous but also truthful, winning our heart with his delicately expressive, self-revelatory second lute song, ‘Happy were we’, while arousing our distrust by - a theatrical masterstroke by Jones - surreptitiously and presumptuously usurping the unoccupied throne, when the royal party has departed after the ceremonial entertainments which close Act 2. The rapid blackout exacerbates our unease regarding his audacious intentions."

Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 22 June 2013
"Toby Spence, back in top voice after a serious illness as the very best and fullest of Britten tenor"
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 21 June 2013
"Toby Spence, as Essex, has regained all his pristine vocal lustre."
Michael Church, The Independent, 21 June 2013
"Toby Spence’s lithe, boyish, ambitious Essex is a wonderfully rounded portrayal"
Michael Tanner, The Spectator, 29 June 2013
"Toby Spence is a dashing Essex"
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 30 June 2013

Recital, January 2013

Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

"Vocal Arts D.C. presented [...] the first local recital of Toby Spence [...]. The English tenor’s fine performance at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater brought that mysterious Czech song cycle to life, as well as Robert Schumann’s poignant “Dichter¬liebe,” in the original high keys.[...] Spence seemed at ease, glowing with all of his [...] charismatic confidence [...]. His voice had heroic fullness when he needed it, including a resonant high A in Schumann’s “Ich grolle nicht,” taken here at a slower tempo to accentuate the sense of bitter disbelief in the text.Spence’s take on “Dichter¬liebe” emphasized a jaw-clenched defiance over outright rage, aided by the avid storytelling of pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson, a narrative quality so important in this cycle, in which the piano is a co-starring character. Spence took his time with many of the tempi, giving a rueful quality to “Hor’ich das ¬Liedchen klingen” and a stark, seething tenseness to “Ich hab’ in Traum geweinet.”" Washington Post, Charles T. Downey, 17 January 2013

Concert, December 2012

London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev, Barbican

"[...] tenor Toby Spence sang with clean eloquence — in Polish too" The Times, Geoff Brown, December 2012

Toby Spence & Kevin Murphy Recital: November 2012

The Frick Collection, New York

"Spence was in town for Antonio in the (other) Met's Tempest. A lyric tenor of wide-ranging musical interests and stylistic acumen, he's enjoyed a varied and successful international career in opera and concert. […] expressive artistry, dynamic suppleness and a pleasant timbre prevailed; […] he demonstrates full knowledge of the required sounds and the meanings conveyed. Coloristic effects here extended to fine diminuendos […] The final "Urlicht" was musically superb and charged with emotion.
[…] Spence gave a fine, fluid account of the cycle, attentive to shifting mood and the transitions between songs. A lovely, clearly heartfelt "Ich ben der Welt abhanden gekommen" made a moving encore. Let's hope Spence will return for many more local recitals."  

Opera News / David Shengold / November 2012

Thomas Adès

The Tempest

Metropolitan Opera New York

"Toby Spence, who created the role of Ferdinand, here sang the role of Antonio, Prospero’s scheming brother. Robust of tone, and looking as youthful as ever, he made a strong impression, even if playing the villain doesn’t look like natural territory for him."

Mark Pullinger Opera Britannia web review
"The tenor Toby Spence is a wily, unctuous Antonio." Anthony Tommasini New York Times
"tenor Toby Spence plays the villainous Antonio with flair." Mike Silverman Associated Press
"Toby Spence (Antonio) and William Burden (King of Naples) delivered flashes of their trademark tenor sound with remarkable diction."

David Patrick Stearns Blog

Kenneth Macmillan

Song of the Earth

Royal Opera House

"Toby Spence sang superbly and the leads were first class."

Louise Levene The Sunday Telegraph

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Bruckner Te Deum

Royal Festival Hall

"Toby Spence stood out for his luminous tenor solos in dialogue with Pieter Schoemann's violin." John Allison The Sunday Telegraph
"The LPO and the London Philharmonic Chorus rose to almost every challenge, and the luxury quartet of Christine Brewer, Mihoko Fujimura, Toby Spence and Franz-Josef Selig ensured a white hot performance of the Te Deum." Martin Kettle The Guardian


Die Meistersinger

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Toby Spence more or less took over the show as David, but his portrayal is so acute, and so well sung, that it was hard to mind. 

Michael Tanner The Spectator
"Toby Spence's David remained ideal- impossibly youthful and athletic for such an experienced singer."

Hugh Canning The Sunday Times


Die Meistersinger

Royal Opera House

"Toby Spence's confidently sung David was similarly vibrant." John Allison Opera Magazine
"Toby Spence brings ardour to the role of David" Colin Anderson The Opera Critic
"..Toby Spence's wonderfully youthful and athletic David, the star of the show.." Hugh Canning The Sunday Times



Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde


Yannick Nézet-Séguin conductor
Sarah Connolly mezzo-soprano
Toby Spence tenor
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Pieter Schoeman leader

Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, 19 February 2011
LPO Live 2013