Nicky Spence

Tenor

Biography

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.

Nicky’s 2017/18 Season includes two important debuts, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for From the House of the Dead, and at Teatro Real for Pirzel in Die Soldaten.  Other highlights include Les Illuminations with the New World Symphony in Miami under Mark Wigglesworth, a recital tour of Janáček The Diary of One Who Disappeared and further recital appearances at the Wigmore Hall, Oxford Lieder Festival and Chiltern Festival, Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, projects with Geneva Camerata, the Myrthen Ensemble and the London Mozart Players, Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Bach Choir, and the much anticipated release of the last volume in his Strauss Song Series with Roger Vignoles (Hyperion).

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Reviews

“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.”

12th November 2017 Les Illuminations (New World Symphony)

Laurence Budmen

South Florida Classical Review

Nicky Spence is superb. The voice has recently grown to encompass more heroic roles and we hear that in this selection, in the bright, lively tone and ringing top… 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.

Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs Vol. 8 (Hyperion)

September 2017

Hugo Shirley

Gramophone

“Spence’s voice is extremely attractive: lyrical and full of expression, yet also with a bright, ringing top register, ideal for the demands of Strauss’s vocal writing.”

“My favourite song on the disc, though, has to be Die Ulme zu Hirsau (The Elm Tree at Hirsau), a veritable tour de force from Spence and Vignoles, not least with a vocal part spanning two octaves! As beguiling as Spence is in some of the more tender songs, here he also shows how powerful his instrument can be in the higher register.”

Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs Volume 8 (Hyperion)

4th August 2017

James Longstaffe

Presto Classical

More Reviews

 

“Nicky Spence [..] 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 Lulu (ENO) November 2016

 

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

Das Rheingold (Hallé)

George Hall, Opera Magazine

 

“Now he’s a singer near his prime, and already an artist of taste and discrimination as this fine set of rarely programmed French Songs reveals. His French is remarkably idiomatic, and he finds colours and chiaroscuro shading in the music that are worthy of a native singer.”

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times May 2016

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Paradis sur Terre Spence / Martineau (Chandos)

 

“Nicky Spence’s tenor gleams thrillingly and sexily as caddish, weak-willed Števa.”

Tim Ashley, Guardian 

“Nicky Spence was larger than life, both in voice and in manner”

David Karlin, Bachtrack 

“Nicky Spence is bold as brass as the cocky Steva”

George Hall, The Stage 

“His French is remarkably idiomatic, and he finds colours and chiaroscuro shading in the music”

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times 

“Nicky Spence is one of our brightest young tenors”

Richard Morrison, The Times 

“Nicky Spence: tenor was on spectacular form in Bach’s demanding arias”

Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk 

“Nicky Spence floored us with the drama of ‘Deposuit potentes”

Peter Reed, Classical Source 

“And then there’s the contrast between this fine-spun theme and the thundering, quasi-operatic Quoniam. Spence was master and more of both, crooning and raging by turns, though later this latter was revealed merely as a warm-up for a Deposuit Potentes that seized the hall with its physical force and rhetorical urgency.”

Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk 

“Nicky Spence’s disarmingly ingenious David”

Richard Morrison, The Times (09/02/15)

“[…] Nicky Spence, a booming young tenor who gets better with every performance. As the testy impresario figure, Courtois, he could have outsung a jet on a runway.”

Mark Valencia, Critics Circle 

“The AAM’s lightness of attack was exhilarating, the strings’ volatile sheen upping the expressive ante no end and providing a luminous backdrop for Frank de Bruine’s ethereally pastoral oboe obbligato (which he played standing up) in the “Qui tollis” section of the ‘Gloria’, which circled round Nicky Spence’s disarmingly tender, Italianate and challenging aria.”

Peter Reed, Classical Source 

” Nicky Spence and Madeleine Shaw have irresistible charm as David and Magdalene”

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph (08/02/15)

” …Nicky Spence’s David is the perfect blend of impulsiveness and serious ambition…”

The Guardian 

“Nicky Spence, a down-to-earth David”

Financial Times, Richard Fairman (10/02/15)

“Apart from Nicky Spence’s charismatic David, no single voice may leap out as world-class ”

Michael Church, Independent (10/02/15)

“And there were assertive contributions from James Creswell as Pogner and Nicky Spence as David.”

Michael White, New York Times (10/02/15)

“Nicky Spence’s David – new power amplifying his trademark purity”

Alexandra Coghlan, NewStatesman (10/02/15)

“Nicky Spence as David was a lovable melodious thug, and fun whenever he stepped on to the stage”

Eric Page, G Scene, (10/02/15)

“Nicky Spence made yet another strong role debut as David, staking out his claim as a potential Mastersinger with powerful singing and bluff comic acting”

Peter Reed, Classical Source (07/02/15)

” Nicky Spence was confident in both voice and acting as Sachs’ apprentice, David”

Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International (10/02/15)

“Nicky Spence brought his familiar sense of lively bon-homie and intensely vivid stage presence to bear on David, giving a vividly projected performance which was combined with sustained and ardent lyricism. The result was highly appealing, very charming indeed and supremely well sung”

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill (08/02/15)

“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…”

***** CD Review ‘As You Like It…’ – The Scotsman 

“Star of the evening had to be Nicky Spence, who sang confidently and I hope with promise of more Rossini roles. Here was a tenor matching Bruce Ford in this repertoire, and it would be good to hear him in more serious Rossini in due course. ”

Opera Britannia – Rossini: Otello / Buxton Festival 

“Elan, intelligence and passionate engagement: Scottish tenor Nicky Spence brings it all to his exemplary performance of Out of Winter, the opening cycle on this disc of songs by Jonathan Dove. Spence’s enunciation of the text (by the late Robert Tear, in response to Britten’s Winter Words) has crystal clarity, while his singing runs the full gamut from the aching lyricism of Song I to the elated peroration of Song VI’s conclusion.”

BBC Magazine – Dove: All You Who Sleep Tonight 

“Roger Quilter’s Three Shakespeare Songs, rich and genuine, were wonderfully delivered, and then came the jewel of the afternoon, Shakespeare settings by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Spence and Lepper moved into torch-song mood, Spence’s fabulous body-language (not least his eyes and smile) conveying every nudge of this treasurable music”

Christopher Morley, The BIrmingham Post 

“Nicky Spence, also a tenor, aptly stresses superficiality as the callow Steva…”

Jenůfa – George Loomis, The New York Times 

“Nicky Spence rose to the challenge of ringing every possible drop of emotion from the score … [He] sang with grace and aplomb.”

Britten’s War Requiem – Christie Franke, Bachtrack 

“Tenor Nicky Spence was in ringing voice as Blanche’s brother, the Chevalier de la Force; every word registered and he clearly conveyed his dilemma when visiting Blanche to persuade her to escape. ”

Dialogues des Carmélites – Opera Britannia 

“[…] Nicky Spence’s Steersman made up the expert cast. Spence’s rumbustious yet delicate ceilidh display, with his troosers slipping down, could go viral if someone puts it on YouTube.”

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian 

“Tenor Nicky Spence found it difficult not to steal the show from his fellow performers […]. His charisma and trademark twinkle on Kurt Weill’s Lonely House, from Street Scene, produced whooping and gruff chants of “Brilliant, son!” from the crowd.”

Marianne Gunn, Scottish Opera 

“And the tenor Nicky Spence changed my conception of the Novice. […] With his husky frame and penetrating voice, Mr. Spence was a different kind of victim: an overgrown weakling who will do anything to avoid pain and punishment. ”

Billy Budd, ENO – Anthony TommasiniI, The New York Times 

“Spence […] broadly overcomes the awkwardness of adults playing children on the stage – and does it with arrestingly bright, bell-like resonance […] Spence is turning out to be a voice of real distinction (ENO, Two Boys)”

Michael White, The Telegraph