Tenor

Nicky Spence

“Spence’s voice is fast becoming a thing of wonder; the heights of dramatic tenordom await.”
What’s on Stage

Photo © David Bebber

Introduction

Hailed by the Daily Telegraph as “a voice of real distinction,” Nicky Spence is fast emerging as “one of our brightest young tenors”. An artist of great integrity, Nicky Spence’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the profession.

Highlights in Nicky’s 2018/19 season include Ein Hirt & Ein Junger Seemann in Tristan und Isolde for the Opéra national de Paris; Tall Prisoner in Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at La Monnaie and also for the Opéra national de Lyon; Messenger & Shipman in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan also for La Monnaie and Sergeant Johnny Strong in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel at the English National Opera. On the concert platform he will sing the title role in Act III of Parsifal with the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder.

His recital appearances include Wigmore Hall, Milton Court, Middle Temple Hall and the Oxford Lieder, Leeds Lieder and Chiltern Arts Festivals.


Contact


Performance Schedule

  • More info  
    13 Sep 18 Wagner Tristan und Isolde
    Opera de Paris

    “Quelle presence … chantées par le jeune Nicky Spence pour les apparitions du marin et du berger…”

    “What a presence the young Nicky Spence exudes in his appearances as Ein Hirt & Ein Junger Seemann…”

    Christian Merlin, Le Figaro, 13 September 2018

    “L’inquiétude et l’application bienveillante que doit justement transmettre Nicky Spence aux courts rôles du Berger et du Jeune marin ne flétrissent en rien sa technique assurée, qu’il sait même adoucir en un caractère tendrement rêveur.”

    “Nicky Spence devotes care and kindness to the roles of Ein Hirt & Ein Junger Seemann, and with unfaltering technique shows his ability to convey a tender and wistful character.”

    Charles Arden, Olyrix, 12 September 2018

    “Nicky Spence assume les rôles du Jeune marin et du Berger avec beaucoup d’élégance, mettant en valeur un timbre lumineux grâce à un bel art de la diction et du legato.”

    “Nicky Spence brings an elegance to the roles of Ein Hirt & Ein Junger Seemann, shining a light on the beautiful tone that he has mastered through diction & legato.”

    Jules Cavalié, Avant-Scène Opéra, 25 September 2018

     

     

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    31 May 18 Wagner Das Rheingold
    Hallé CD

    “…and Nicky Spence’s instinctively theatrical Mime are all well worth preserving…”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 31 May 2018

    “Nicky Spence is a vivid Mime…”
    Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, 22 June 2018

    “Nicky Spence sings a suitably craven but strong-voiced Mime, his diction razor-sharp and his tone devoid of any unsteadiness. His performance as David in the same “Mastersingers” as Paterson’s Sachs had already alerted me to his vocal and acting skills and he turns in another superlative performance here.”
    Ralph Moore, MusicWeb International, June 2018

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    07 Mar 18 Janáček From the House of the Dead
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “Nicky Spence was all swaggering vulgarity and casual brutality as Nikita-there is no denying the brilliant power of his singing.”
    John Allison, Opera, May 2018

    “However, perhaps the most striking performance comes from Nicky Spence as the violent Nikita: the closing scene, in which he finally helps and befriends a prisoner he has previously attacked and injured, heartbreakingly captures Janáček’s faith in humanity even at its darkest, and will linger long after the curtain has fallen.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 8 March 2018

    “Nicky Spence making his ROH debut graced the stage in voice as well as dance.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 11 March 2018

    “Nicky Spence, dominates the first act as Nikita, a confused and volatile nerveball who compounds his guilt but is tortured with remorse. Spence’s voice is fast becoming a thing of wonder; the heights of dramatic tenordom await.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s On Stage, 8 March 2018

    “There were strong performances from…Nicky Spence (Nikita).”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 8 March 2018

    “Nicky Spence produced the most notable piece of character acting as a swaggering brute of a convict.”
    David Karlin, Bach Track, 8 March 2018

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    27 Jan 18 Bernstein Songfest
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/David Charles Abell at the Barbican

    “The six soloists, three of them American, did the work proud. Tenor Nicky Spence was entertainingly self-mocking in Zizi’s Lament…”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 30 January 2018

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    12 Nov 17 Britten Les Illuminations
    New World Symphony/Mark Wigglesworth

    “Scottish tenor Nicky Spence was a superb protagonist on Saturday. With a large, powerful instrument and vocal range that encompassed a low baritonal register and strength at the top, Spence ably painted the score’s shifting patterns. Singing in French with projected supertitles, he immediately commanded attention with his agile declamation of “I alone hold the key to this savage parade,” the leitmotiv of the 20-minute score. He soared in the beguiling melody of “Antique” and softly caressed the dream spun cantabile line of “Being Beauteous.” Spence conjured up the band of motley and exotic marchers in “Parade” and brought tenderness to the final reverie of “Départ.”
    Laurence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review, 12 November 2017

     

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    01 Aug 17 Strauss The Complete Songs - Volume 8
    Hyperion

    “This is the last in this superb series, devised by Roger Vignoles, of all Richard Strauss’s 174 songs for voice and piano. Those for voice and orchestra were excluded – until now. Vignoles argues the case for including the Vier letze Lieder, the composer’s famous farewell to life, in the piano transcription by Max Wolff and (only Im Abendrot) Ernst Roth. Strauss’s piano writing is already rich with orchestral colours, explored, relished, teased out wonderfully by Vignoles. In these four last songs, Rebecca Evans matches him in that particular ardent introspection Strauss demands. Nicky Spence is abundant (Cäcilie), soaring (Wenn) and tender (An Sie). Three great performers. Lucky Strauss.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 23 July 2017

    “Gold, though, goes to Nicky Spence and Roger Vignoles, making a remarkable statement of intent in the rapturous ‘Cäcilie’, with a special care with text and phrase and an ardour verging on the heroic.”
    David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, 4 December 2017

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    14 Jul 17 Janacek Káťa Kabanová
    Opera Holland Park

    “…with cowardly drunk Tichon – superbly played by Nicky Spence”
    George Hall, The Stage, 17 July 2017

    “…Nicky Spence is an accomplished singer-actor.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 15 July 2017

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    10 Jun 17 Janacek's 'Jenufa' (Steva) Grange Park Opera

    “What made the evening so satisfying, however, were four superb performances in the principal roles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jenůfa’s hapless suitors Laca and Steva as strongly or sharply defined as they are by Peter Hoary and Nicky Spence… Spence is totally persuasive as Steva the drunken oaf and braggart whose most redeeming feature is his shamefaced embarrassment at his own foolery. Both these excellent tenors sing at the top of their game.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 21 June 2017

    “..Nicky Spence makes a handsome-toned Števa.”
    Hannah Nepil, Financial Times, 13 June 2017

    The two men in Jenůfa’s life, Laca and Steva, are sung and acted with astonishing power and verismo by respectively Peter Hoare and Nicky Spence…the sweaty, drunken horror who happens to be the richest young man in the village, both sung with superb confidence and freedom…”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 11 June 2017

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    27 Feb 17 Janacek's 'Káťa Kabanová' (Tichon) Seattle Opera

    “Nicky Spence had a solid, passionate vocal presence as Tichon”
    Thomas May, Seattle Times, 26 February 2017

    “As Tichon, Katya’s abusive husband, Nicky Spence’s strong voice subtly conveyed his vacillation between his overbearing mother’s dictates and his wife’s needs, which spur Tichon to anger and heavy drinking”
    Maggie Larrick, Queen Anne & Magnolia News, 28 February 2017

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    28 Nov 16 Wagner 'Das Rheingold' (Mime) Hallé Orchestra - Sir Mark Elder

    “The Mime of Nicky Spence was perfectly delivered – Spence is a complete stage animal as well as an imaginative and texturally focused singer.”
    George Hall, Opera Magazine

    “Nicky Spence was a grovelling and grasping Mime, but with a very fine voice colour to show off…”
    Robert Beale, The Arts Desk, 1 December 2016

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    10 Nov 16 Berg Lulu (Alwa)
    English National Opera

    “Nicky Spence, as her husband Dr Schön’s no less infatuated son, Alwa, gave notice of his potential in heroic roles. With every appearance, this fine young Scottish tenor, originally destined for a crossover recording career, grows in artistic depth and stature.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 20 November 2016

    “There’s much…substance to Nicky Spence’s wonderfully secure Alwa”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 10 November 2016

    “ENO has pushed the boat out to cast this show, and there are first-rate performances from Nicky Spence (Alwa)…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 10 November 2016

    “Also outstanding are James Morris and Nicky Spence as Dr Schön and Alwa…”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 17 November 2016

     

Discography

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    WAGNER Das Rheingold

    Label: Hallé

    Release Date: 01 Jun 18

    Woglinde: Sarah Tynan
    Wellgunde: Madeleine Shaw
    Flosshilde: Leah-Marian Jones
    Alberich: Samuel Youn
    Wotan: Iain Paterson
    Fricka: Susan Bickley
    Freia: Emma Bell
    Fasolt: Reinhard Hagen
    Fafner: Clive Bayley
    Donner: David Stout
    Froh: David Butt Philip
    Loge: Will Hartmann
    Mime: Nicky Spence
    Erda: Susanne Resmark
    Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
    Hallé Orchestra

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    Strauss: The Complete Songs - Volume 8

    Label: Hyperion

    Release Date: 28 Jun 17

    “Nicky Spence is superb … he deals heroically with Strauss’s more outrageous demands and, perhaps most importantly, he has just the right interpretative keenness and enthusiasm to put a persuasive case for everything he sings here” (Gramophone)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Soprano: Rebecca Evans
    Piano: Roger Vignoles

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    Pavel Haas: Fata Morgana

    Label: Resonus

    Release Date: 03 Mar 17

    “Spence sings highly effectively and the Navarra Quartet really makes the most of its numerous opportunities for sensuality … this is a well selected disc, bringing to the table two of Haas’ most attractive cycles and that première recording. It sits splendidly in the current discography.” (MusicWeb International)

    Soprano: Anita Watson
    Mezzo soprano: Anna Starushkevych
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Bass: James Platt

    Piano: Lada Valešová
    Navarra Quartet

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    Buxton Orr: Songs

    Label: Delphian

    Release Date: 24 Feb 17

    “Nicky Spence is the first singer to record a full disc of his songs and it’s a revelation. Imagine a gentler, quirkier Britten with dabblings in 12-tone technique and old Scots poems set to generous vocal lines and off-piste instrumentation … Spence himself sounds terrific throughout – nimble, direct, deftly playful and expressive with the text.” (The Guardian)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Piano: Iain Burnside
    Clarinet: Jordan Black
    Double bass: Nikita Naumov
    Members of the Edinburgh Quartet

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    Kenneth Leighton: Complete Organ Works

    Label: Resonus

    Release Date: 27 Jan 17

    LEIGHTON These are Thy Wonders Op. 84 ‘A Song of Renewal’

    Organ: Stephen Farr
    Organ: John Butt
    Violin: Chloë Hanslip
    Tenor: Nicky Spence

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    Jonathan Dove: For an Unknown Soldier

    Label: Signum

    Release Date: 04 Nov 16

    “Nicky Spence is wonderfully tender in the tenor solos … it’s a marvellously atmospheric work and should be heard.” (The Times)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Piano: Melvyn Tan

    London Mozart Players
    Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir
    Oxford Bach Choir

    Conductor: Nicholas Cleobury

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    Purer than Pearl

    Label: Albion Records

    Release Date: 28 Oct 16

    Songs and duets by Ralph Vaughan-Williams

    Soprano: Mary Bevan
    Mezzo-soprano: Jennifer Johnston
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Baritone: Johnny Herford

    Piano: William Vann
    Violin: Thomas Gould

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    Paradis Sur Terre: A French Songbook

    Label: Chandos

    Release Date: 01 Apr 16

    “… It’s a repertory that suits Spence rather well. Caplet and Boulanger allow us to hear some finely shaded soft singing … Martineau, as one might expect, is stylish and elegant throughout … “
    (Tim Ashley, Gramophone)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    Wolf: Complete Songs Vol. 8

    Label: Stone Records

    Release Date: 06 Jul 15

    Eichendorff Lieder

    Soprano: Katherine Broderick
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Baritone: David Stout
    Piano: Sholto Kynoch

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    Alun Hoddinott: Song Cycles and Folk Songs

    Label: Naxos

    Release Date: 01 Dec 14

    Landscapes Op. 87
    Two Songs from Glamorgan
    The Silver Hound Op. 121
    Six Welsh Folksongs

    Soprano: Claire Booth
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Baritone: Jeremy Huw Williams

    Piano: Andrew Matthews-Owen and Michael Pollock

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    Dove: All You Who Sleep Tonight | Song Cycles

    Label: Naxos

    Release Date: 28 Jul 14

    1. Out of Winter
    2. Cut My Shadow
    3. Ariel
    4. All You Who Sleep Tonight

    Soprano: Claire Booth
    Mezzo-soprano: Patricia Bardon
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Piano: Andrew Matthews-Owen

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    As You Like It: Shakespeare Songs

    Label: Resonus

    Release Date: 01 Jan 13

    “Spence’s voice is naturally thrilling, radiant and luminescent in just about every second of this programme, crossing stylistic boundaries with the silvery ease of a born entertainer.” (The Scotsman)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    Mark-Anthony Turnage: A Constant Obsession

    Label: Resonus

    Release Date: 02 Jan 12

    “The sheer sound of this [album] is a thrill: it’s warm, up close, and amazingly vivid. Nicky Spence is superb in the song cycle A Constant Obsession, a set of love songs on poets such as Keats and Tennyson.” (The Daily Telegraph)

    Tenor: Nicky Spence

    Chamber Domaine
    Conductor: Thomas Kemp

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    Britten: Complete Songs Vol. 2

    Label: Onyx

    Release Date: 26 Sep 11

    Britten-Pears Young Artist performances of Britten song cycles at the 2009 Aldeburgh Festival. Includes world premiere recordings.

    Mezzo-soprano: Jennifer Johnston
    Tenor: Allan Clayton
    Tenor: Robin Tritschler
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Tenor: Benjamin Hulett
    Baritone: Benedict Nelson
    Soprano: Elizabeth Atherton

    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    Britten: Complete Songs Vol. 1

    Label: Onyx

    Release Date: 26 Apr 11

    Britten-Pears Young Artist performances of Britten song cycles at the 2009 Aldeburgh Festival. Includes world premiere recordings.

    Tenor: Andrew Tortoise
    Tenor: James Geer
    Tenor: Ben Johnson
    Mezzo-soprano: Caryl Hughes
    Baritone: Philip Smith
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Soprano: Katherine Broderick
    Tenor: Robin Tritschler

    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

Repertoire

Opera

BEETHOVEN
Fidelio (Jacquino)

BERG
Lulu (Alwa)
Wozzeck (Hauptmann / Andres)

BERLIOZ
Benvenuto Cellini (Francesco)

BRITTEN
The Rape of Lucretia (Male Chorus)
Billy Budd (Novice)
Curlew River (Mad Woman)
The Beggar’s Opera (MacHeath)
The Turn of the Screw (Prologue / Quint)

DOVE
Flight (Bill)
The Adventures of Pinocchio (Lampwick)
I Giardini Della Storia (Soldier)

JANACEK
Jenufa (Steva)
Katya Kabanova (Tichon)
The Makropoulos Case (Jenik)
From the House of the Dead (Nikita / Tall Prisoner)
The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Janek)

LEONCAVALLO
Zaza (Courtois)

MARTINU
The Marriage (Kharkaryov)

MOZART
Die Zauberflöte (Tamino)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Belmonte)
Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio)

MUHLY
Two Boys (Brian)

POULENC
Les Dialogues des Carmélites (Chevalier de la Force)

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Messenger)

ROSSINI
Otello (Iago)
Guillaume Tell (Rodolphe)
Mosé in Egitto (Mambre)
La Gazza Ladra (Isacco)

SCHÖNBERG
Moses und Aron (Junger Mann)

SMETANA
The Bartered Bride (Vasek)

STRAVINSKY
The Rake’s Progress (Tom Rakewell)

STRAUSS
Intermezzo (Baron Lummer)

WAGNER
Die Meistersingers Von Nürnberg (David)
Der Fliegende Holländer (Steuermann)
Tristan und Isolde (Seeman / Hirt)
Das Rheingold (Loge / Mime)

TCHAIKOVSKY
Eugene Onegin (Lensky)

ZIMMERMANN
Die Soldaten (Pirzel)