Nicky Spence

Winner, Solo Vocal Award, Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2020

Winner, BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award 2020

for Janáček The Diary of One who Disappeared (Hyperion)

Photo © David Bebber


Scottish-born Nicky Spence trained at the GSMD and the National Opera Studio. 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 2020/21 season include his role debut as Siegmund in a new production of Die Walküre for the English National Opera, his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Tichon in a new production of Káťa Kabanová, the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Caliban in The Tempest with the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Thomas Adès.

He has also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, New York; Seattle Opera; L’Opéra national de Paris; La Monnaie, Brussels; Opéra national de Lyon; the Teatro Real in Madrid; the Dutch National Opera and Oper Frankfurt. Future seasons see Nicky make debuts for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Deutsche Staatsoper and return to the English National Opera, La Monnaie and the Royal Opera.

Nicky gives recitals internationally, appears in concert extensively and records prolifically. In 2020 he won the BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award and Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award for his critically acclaimed recording of Janáček’s The Diary of One who Disappeared.

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    16 Nov 20 Janáček The Diary of One Who Disappeared
    Wigmore Hall

    “There may have been no audience gathered at the Wigmore Hall, but the tenor Nicky Spence never short-changed online viewers of Monday’s lunchtime recital. In character the moment he came through the door, he seemed to own every inch of the stage as the ploughboy of Janacek’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared … Even if a note was never sung, we would still feel the rustic youth’s boiling passions through Spence’s leaping platform movements, his mobile hands, his outstretched arms, the drunken knee-slapping, the dark prowling behind Julius Drake’s piano … The notes, though, were what really packed the punch . Earlier in the year Spence’s recent recording of the work, partnered with the resplendent Drake, won the Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine vocal awards. The reasons why were easy to spot in Spence’s enviably wide emotional range, flexibility across all registers and mastery of the Czech language’s curt rhythms and forceful consonants, both elements deeply embedded in Janacek’s music.”
    Geoff Brown, The Times, 17 November 2020

    “Beefy yet stricken, Spence’s supersized voice enacted the internal combat that sets lust for this alien woman against the horror of betrayal and contamination. “My poor head aches, consumed with flames.” You bet it does. Massive in its middle range, utterly assured at the top, Spence also summoned a truly explosive quality from the chesty depths. This voice of a velvety grandeur can bloom and swell imperiously before shrinking into plaintive introspection.”
    Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk, 17 November 2020

    “Spence is one of our finest Janacek tenors in the opera house, but also a subtle and musical singer of art song … Spence brings a near-heroic sound and vivid declamation of the text that recalls one of the cycle’s great British interpreters, Philip Langridge.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 29 November 2020

    “Nicky Spence and Julius Drake bring Gypsy magic and mystery to Wigmore Hall … Nicky Spence and Julius Drake, together with mezzo-soprano Václava Housková, won the solo vocal 2020 Gramophone Award for their 2019 Hyperion-label recording of The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Their performance of the cycle at Wigmore Hall, with mezzo-soprano Jess Dandy, was a powerful evocation of the human longing for and embrace of freedom, love and visionary hope.”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 17 November 2020

    “That he is a prime [Janáček] interpreter is confirmed by this Wigmore Hall lunchtime performance … There was a pronounced dramatic element to the Diary of One who Disappeared: it began with piano alone onstage, Nicky Spence entering after the music starts from the artist’s door, immediately stamping his interpretation with perfect Czech and a tremendous high register. Spence has a plaintive, clarion voice that particularly suited the third song, heard against a beautiful, consonant piano background; similarly, the Nature evocation of the fourth was perfectly done, Drake invoking the swallows of the text. Haunting and somehow speaking perfect truth, it seemed as if all life was here.”
    Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International, 21 December 2020

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    23 Oct 20 Vaughan Williams Folk Songs Volume 1
    Albion Records (CD)

    “The collection closes with Lovely Joan. VW worked this tune into his opera Sir John in Love and from thence into the central section of his Fantasia on Greensleeves. It’s a memorable melody and it’s not hard to see why the composer regarded it so highly. Nicky Spence relates the story very well.”

    “The Ploughman offers a jolly and idealised view of the life of a ploughman. It’s deftly sung by Nicky Spence.”
    John Quinn, MusicWeb International, 29 October 2020

    “Soloists Roderick Williams, Nicky Spence and Mary Bevan are all persuasive, while the composer’s instrumental elaborations (William Vann, piano) have a beauty and interest all their own. With the melody of each of the 23 songs repeated in every verse, it’s advisable not to swallow the album whole. Taken in chunks, this first trip to Vaughan Williams’s folk song workshop is an absolute tonic and delight.”
    Geoff Brown, The Times, 28 October 2020

    “…Nicky Spence displays a personable empathy with the cannily resourceful deeds of ‘Lovely Joan’ (a tune subsequently incorporated by the composer into his 1928 opera Sir John in Love and the central portion of Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’).”
    Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

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    16 Jul 20 BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Recital
    City Halls Glasgow

    “Enormous credit … to tenor Nicky Spence and pianist Malcolm Martineau (****) who hot-footed it to Glasgow following a last-minute call-off … to perform a refreshingly mixed and meaningful programme. It encompassed the comforting charm of Reynaldo Hahn’s A Chloris, the graceful fluidity of Josef Szulc’s Clair de Lune, Jonathan Dove’s raunchy Prandial Plaint, the inspired pairing of Britten songs with Glasgow-born Buxton Orr’s couthy Auld Mrs Murdy and the demure Shy Geordie, and much more besides.
    The spun narrative, a personable sung essay structured in paragraph blocks, was enlivened by Spence’s beckoning charm, an intimacy warmly projected over the airwaves.”
    Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 25 July 2020

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    07 Mar 20 Janáček The Diary of One Who Disappeared

    “Nicky is fast becoming one of our most sought-after tenors; with every phrase, you can hear a future Florestan and Grimes, yet the voice is capable of Mozartian finesse and elegance when required. His stage presence is exceptionally winning – this is someone who just loves to perform, and he draws you in to the music with his unforced enthusiasm. Janáček’s music is ideal for this voice, and the performance made a convincing case for the work’s greatness.”
    Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 8 March 2020

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    03 Feb 20 Barry Alice's Adventures Underground
    Royal Opera House

    “Nicky Spence’s captivating White Rabbit”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 8 February 2020

    “Having Nicky Spence… in the second cast is luxury indeed.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5 February 2020

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    15 Nov 19 Gluck Orphée
    English National Opera

    “Making a very fine ENO debut, the conductor Geoffrey Paterson brought orchestra and singers beautifully together in this elegant shaping of Glass’s music, and Nicky Spence as Heurtebise, the Princess’s chauffeur, was outstanding — a compelling stage presence whose firmly lyrical tenor carried the full weight of the performance.”
    Mark Ronan, The Article, 18 November 2019

    “The singing here by Jennifer France and Nicky Spence is thrillingly dramatic…Nicky Spence and Jennifer France exuded a sense of manipulative mystery and Underworld agents but soon introduced the necessary sense of ambiguity of their roles and, as aforementioned, sing as if their lives / deaths depended on it.”
    Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, 15 November 2019

    “Nicky Spence’s Heurtebise also travels between the living and the dead…Attracted to the urbane Eurydice he too must sacrifice his love, but Spence was hugely affecting. I’ve sometimes felt disinclined to warm to the character, but Spence’s performance of him rather changed this. He made him vulnerable, the suggestion that his love for Eurydice was doomed and tragic. He sang magnificently.”
    Marc Bridle, Opera Today, 18 November 2019

    “…Nicky Spence is in fine voice as Heurtebise, wooing Sarah Tynan’s put upon, fretful Eurydice with restrained ardour.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 17 November 2019

    ” The two more engaging characters are the bluff chauffeur Heurtebise, vividly interpreted by Nicky Spence, and Death, a demandingly high coloratura soprano role…heroically taken here by Jennifer France…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 16 November 2019

    “The Princess’s chauffeur, Hautebise, found luxury casting in Nicky Spence – his forbidden love for Eurydice was well explored, his voice ever-seductive…”
    Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International, 15 November 2019

    “Nicky Spence’s Heurtebise sang with ardent urgency, and the growing darkness in his voice made for beguiling duets with Lester’s baritone.”
    Benjamin Poore, Music OMH, 15 November 2019

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    04 Oct 19 Handel Brockes-Passion
    The Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr (CD)

    “And it’s luxury casting to have…Nicky Spence… as one manifestation of the Faithful Soul.”
    Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 4 October 2019

    “Nicky Spence, as the tenor Faithful Soul, reprised his overtly ardent expressiveness in ‘Erwäg, ergrimmte Natternburut.'”
    Nick Breckenfield, Classical Source, 19 April 2019

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    14 Sep 19 Martinů The Greek Passion
    Opera North

    “The excellent cast is led by Nicky Spence’s Manolios, a real outsider whose generous, unforced tenor conveys the sincerity of the shepherd chosen for the role of Christ in the passion play.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 22 September 2019

    “Musically, it’s extremely fine, and dominated by an exceptional central performance from Spence, who sounds glorious and admirably captures both the conviction of the religious leader and the deeply troubled man beneath.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 16 September 2019

    “The cast puts in a strong ensemble performance. Nicky Spence is a sensitive, steadfast Manolios, the gentle shepherd subsumed by his acting role of Christ.”
    Rebecca Franks, The Times, 16 September 2019

    “And there is a powerful central performance from Nicky Spence. For much of the opera, his Manolios is in a state of religious ecstasy, a meek, gentle giant toying with his crown of thorns, carrying an enormous weight of responsibility on his shoulders. His strong tenor has an heroic quality, but he reined it in with enormous sensitivity. Spence’s eyes were often pricked with tears, his sincerity deeply moving.”
    Mark Pullinger, BachTrack, 15 September 2019

    “Nicky Spence nails Manolios’s endearing gaucheness, his journey from lowly shepherd to hero traced with intelligence, his voice comfortably soaring over the more fulsome tuttis.”
    Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 15 September 2019

    “An outstanding set of principals is led by Scottish tenor Nicky Spence as the Messiah-like Manolios. Spence’s obvious sincerity is embedded in his sensitive acting, gleaming tone and crystal clear projection of the English text.”
    Claire Lomax, The Ilkley Gazette, 16 September 2019

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    19 Jun 19 Gala Performance in support of the Leeds Lieder Festival
    Wigmore Hall

    “Nicky Spence’s bravura performance of John Dankworth’s ‘Dunsinane Blues’ was just what was needed to supply more than a little humour to the proceedings.”
    Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH.com, 21 June 2019

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    27 Apr 19 Debussy, Simpson, Schumann & Shostakovich Leeds Lieder Festival
    Leeds College of Music

    “A tenor who combines heroic tone and a poetic sensibility that takes the breath away.”
    Hugh Canning, The Times, 5 May 2019

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    19 Apr 19 Handel Brockes-Passion
    Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr at the Barbican

    “Nicky Spence’s Faithful Soul (tenor) bristled with rage, the lovely warmth of his tenor winning empathy for his indignation; Spence’s rhetorical rise and fermata at the start of the da capo repeat – “Consider”, he commanded the “nest of vipers” – was as transfixing as the softness of his head voice at the close.”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 20 April 2019

    “Nicky Spence brought great rhetorical strength to his role as the Faithful Soul.”
    5***** Planet Hugill, 21 April 2019

    “Faithful Soul Nicky Spence (a Wagnerian fox in Handel’s baroque henhouse – erupting first into thrilling rage before later floating tenderness on the very surface of his glorious beast of a voice)…”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 20 April 2019



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    17 Apr 19 Wagner Parsifal (Act III)
    Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder

    “He already inhabits the part: singing radiantly, with a stillness and nobility absolutely right for Wagner’s “holy fool”…We have a new Parsifal.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 20 April 2019

    “Nicky Spence made a debut of exciting potential in the title role — he sings Siegmund in the not-too-distant future…”
    Hugh Canning, The Times, 28 April 2019

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    19 Feb 19 Wolf Italienisches Liederbuch
    Milton Court

    “…it was a delight to hear his [Nicky Spence’s] increasingly beefy tenor pinging around the hall with such honest ardour.”
    5***** Neil Fisher, The Times, 20 February 2019

    “Nicky Spence’s contributions were notable for their quicksilver changes of temperament and for his ability to vary his tone from the burnished and heroic to delicately soft.”
    5***** Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, 19 February 2019

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    28 Dec 18 Schumann, Shostakovich & Britten Recital
    Wigmore Hall

    “My ego is my amigo,” trilled Scotland’s finest in his encore performance of Valentine Card, a hymn to himself by Jeremy Nicholas that played into the gregarious tenor’s hands. Except there’s nothing a vainglorious about Nicky Spence … a serious artist of prodigious gifts … An enchanting evening … thrillingly performed by Spence … & irresistibly coloured by [his] Scottish vowels …”
    Mark Valencia, Bachtrack, 29 December 2018

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    13 Sep 18 Wagner Tristan und Isolde
    Opéra national 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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    29 Jul 18 Janáček The diary of one who disappeared
    Hyperion (CD)

    “Nicky Spence’s last solo Hyperion outing, on the final volume of the label’s Strauss Lieder series, revealed how his voice had developed into an instrument of considerable heroic ring and resilience (8/18). This follow-up Janáček album is if anything more impressive, showcasing the young Scottish tenor in songs by a composer for whom his gifts – both vocally and temperamentally – seem to be ideally suited.

    The main work is the hauntingly beautiful and moving The Diary of One who Disappeared, for which Spence joins a discography that, after early recordings by Beno Blachut and Nicolai Gedda, has featured distinguished accounts primarily from British singers. But he has nothing to fear from comparisons with such illustrious predecessors as Ian Bostridge (with Thomas Adès at the piano) and Philip Langridge (with Graham Johnson; Forlane, 4/96 – nla), which up until now have been the most recommendable modern accounts.

    He sounds wonderfully fresh and engaged throughout, presenting a vividly clear characterisation of the self-taught man captured by the ‘lovely verses about that gypsy love’ (as the composer described them to Kamila Stösslová) that Janáček set for an unorthodox but uniquely effective configuration of tenor, alto, piano and a trio of female voices. Not only does Spence’s voice offer a rare mix of steely strength and velvety tenderness but his bright, vibrant timbre communicates a touching, wide-eyed sense of ardent longing, tinged with melancholy.

    He sings with sensitivity and intelligence, projects the words with consistent clarity and covers this wonderful cycle’s broad emotional range movingly and convincingly. Within the scope even of just the very first song, for example, he takes us persuasively from jittery nervousness through urgency to almost heartbreaking yearning. And he manages the various and varied mood shifts throughout the cycle no less successfully, especially in those many typically Janáčekian moments where lyricism bursts through briefly as sun through the clouds (listen in particular to the way he lets the strident exertions of the first part of ‘Hey there, my tawny oxen’ melt away into gentle yearning).

    There’s no shortage of earthiness to match the toiling rustic metaphors of the early songs, while the first encounters with Václava Housková’s rich-sounding and seductive Zefka (the Czech mezzo captures the girl’s wilfulness and wildness beautifully) are full of tender dreaminess. The arrival of the siren-like trio of female voices (the diaphanous Voice) in ‘Welcome, my handsome one’ is as it should be: heart-stopping and haunting in equal measure. Spence is no less fine in those central songs of the cycle that start to resemble an opera scene, and he rises fully to all the challenges the composer throws his way as the intensity grows: the top Cs at the cycle’s conclusion don’t hold any fears for him.

    The tenor is brilliantly supported throughout by Julius Drake, who is ever alert to Janáček’s piano-writing – delicate and piercing by turns – and conjures up the cycle’s sound world superbly from the start: an uncanny place of beautiful strangeness, quietly miraculous nature, churning emotions and dreamlike encounters. Adès, a composer himself, of course, perhaps captures something a little more expressionist for Bostridge but Drake is every bit as impressive, not least in a visceral account of the central Intermezzo erotico.

    The couplings are hardly less fine. There’s something of a rarity in the form of the original version of the Nursery Rhymes, in which Voice offer a mixture of liveliness, mischief and beautiful blend (perhaps even a tad too beautiful for these modest songs) and Victoria Samek takes care of the jaunty clarinet contributions. Then Spence and Housková pick up their double act once more in the irresistible Moravian Folk Poetry in Songs. It’s a performance that captures the set’s characteristic mix of humour and melancholy beautifully, with too many lovely touches to list; but listen out for how Housková turns from the soulfulness of ‘Heat from my love’ to kick off the angular syncopations of ‘Constancy’, or the way the two bring almost unbearable tenderness to ‘Who’s the posy for?’.

    Drake offers vividly etched playing once more (listen to his way with the cimbalom-like strums and melismas that accompany the vocal line in ‘Rosemary’), while Voice join in for a rip-roaring account of the final song, ‘Musicians’. It’s a fitting conclusion to an album that offers much to celebrate: a superb achievement by Spence and Drake, in particular, and as persuasive an introduction to Janáček’s songs as you’ll find. Excellent engineering and presentation from Hyperion crown an outstanding release – highly recommended.”
    Hugo Shirley, Gramophone, September 2019

    Spence is unquestionably one of our finest singing actors, and his palpable enthusiasm for Janáček is most convenient, given that he is first among the performers here who provide this infrequently performed masterpiece with its most convincing modern recording to date…
    A tenor voice with unusual depth and which can soar nobly, he consistently produces a beautiful sound in music whose beauty is not always obvious. His Czech seems pleasingly natural to me at least (although I’m from Stockport). Whatever the language, in his reading of the second number Ta černá cigánka (That black-eyed gipsy) Spence sows the seeds of the obsessive spirit that dominates the first part of the cycle; this reaches a peak in Hajsi, vy sivi volci (Hey, my tawny oxen) which exudes operatic intensity. This is singing whose profound humanity is aptly matched by Drake’s lithe pianism. By the final ‘third’ of the sequence, Spence brilliantly, and most musically captures that sense of the protagonist being absolutely stuck between rock and hard place before the Diary concludes”
    Richard Hanlon, Music Web International

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    31 May 18 Wagner Das Rheingold
    Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder (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 (CD)

    “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 Jenůfa
    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 Káťa Kabanová
    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
    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
    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



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    Alex Woolf: Requiem

    Label: Delphian

    Release Date: 23 Oct 20

    Nicky Spence, Tenor
    Choir, Vox Luna
    Alex Woolf, Conductor
    Ian Burnside, Piano
    Phillip Higham, Cello
    Anthony Gray, Organ

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    Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs Volume 1

    Label: Albion Records

    Release Date: 23 Oct 20

    Mary Bevan MBE, soprano

    Nicky Spencetenor

    Roderick Williams OBE, baritone

    William Vann, piano

    Jack Liebeck, violin


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    Handel: Brockes-Passion

    Label: AAM Records

    Release Date: 04 Oct 19

    Academy of Ancient Music


    “Celebrating the 300th anniversary of Handel’s great Brockes-Passion: a long-neglected masterpiece by this most brilliant composer, from a libretto by his friend, Barthold Brockes, one of Germanys leading poets.”

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    Janáček: The diary of one who disappeared & other works

    Label: Hyperion

    Release Date: 28 Jun 19

    Winner, 2020 Gramophone Solo Vocal Category

    “The Scottish tenor joins Philip Langridge and Ian Bostridge as one of the foremost non-Czech interpreters of Janacek’s remarkable narrative song cycle, but his sturdy, heroic timbre sounds more idiomatic than either.”
    Sunday Times Album of the Week, 30 June 2019

    Gramophone’s Recording of the Month / Editors Choice in the August 2019 issue.
    “He sounds wonderfully fresh & engaged throughout, presenting a vividly clear characterisation of the self taught man captured by the ‘lovely verses about that gypsy love’ (as the composer described them to Kamila Stösslová) that Janacek set for an unorthodox but uniquely effective configuration of tenor, alto, piano & a trio of female voices. Not only does Spence’s voice offer a rare mix of steely strength and velvety tenderness but his bright, vibrant timbre communicates a touching, wide-eyed sense of ardent longing, tinged with melancholy.
    He sings with sensitivity and intelligence, projects the words with consistent clarity and covers this wonderful cycle’s broad and emotional range movingly and convincingly. Within the scope even of just the very first song, for example, he takes us persuasively from jittery nervousness through urgency to almost heartbreaking yearning. And he manages the various and varied mood shifts throughout the cycles no less successfully, especially in those many typically Janacekian moments where lyricism bursts through briefly as sun through the clouds (listen in particular to the way he lets the strident exertions of the first part of ‘Hey there, may tawny oxen’ melt away into gentle yearning.”
    Hugo Shirley, Gramophone, August 2019

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    Hoad: Magic Lantern Tales

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 06 Nov 18

    “Tenor Nicky Spence’s singing in this cycle is outstanding, with diction paramount”
    Jessica Duchen, Music Magazine, January 28 2019

    “Spence’s unaccompanied voice bursts with the anguished weight of memory, “That story lifting up the tentflap of history”. There is a subtle chromatic alteration in the repeated final line, “Stories as brittle as glass”, to which Spence adds timbral nuance, which is both beautiful and anguished”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, September 26 2019

    Composer: Cheryl Frances Hoad
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Pianist: Sholto Kynoch


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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



Fidelio (Jacquino)

Lulu (Alwa)
Wozzeck (Hauptmann / Andres)

Benvenuto Cellini (Francesco)

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)

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

Rusalka (The Prince)

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

Zaza (Courtois)

The Marriage (Kharkaryov)
The Greek Passion (Manolios)

Die Zauberflöte (Tamino)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Belmonte)
Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio)
La Clemenza di Tito (Tito)

Two Boys (Brian)

Les Dialogues des Carmélites (Chevalier de la Force)

The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Messenger)

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

Moses und Aron (Junger Mann)

The Bartered Bride (Vasek)

The Rake’s Progress (Tom Rakewell)

Intermezzo (Baron Lummer)

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

Eugene Onegin (Lensky)

Die Soldaten (Pirzel)