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.
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning
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.”.
South Florida Classical Review, Lawrence Budmen
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 Spence’s 2016-17 season include a return to Opéra de Paris for Andrès in Wozzeck, Alwa in Lulu at English National Opera under Mark Wigglesworth, Tichon in Kátya Kabanová for a debut at Seattle Opera, and a reprisal of his portrayal of Števa in Jenůfa for Grange Park Opera in their new British home. Other highlights include his role debut of Mime in a recorded performance of Das Rheingold with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder, and Bruckner’s Te Deum under Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. CD releases include the last volume in the Strauss Song Series with Roger Vignoles (Hyperion), a disc of Buxton Orr Songs with Iain Burnside (Delphian), and concert appearances at the Barbican, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow.Read More
Last season’s highlights included his debut at the Bastille in Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron conducted by Philippe Jordan, Leoncavallo’s Zazá with the BBCSO for Opera Rara, The Makropoulos Case at Oper Frankfurt, and Števa in David Alden’s landmark production of Jenůfa at ENO. Concert appearances included performance of works by Bach at the BBC Proms, Britten’s Les Illuminations under Yan Pascal Tortelier, and both Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Bach St Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall. Nicky Spence performed recitals at St MartinintheFields, Kings Place, Zurich’s Tonhalle, the Purcell Room, and Wigmore Hall.
On the opera stage, Nicky Spence created the role of Brian in the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s opera Two Boys at ENO, a role he reprised for his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2013 conducted by David Robertson. Past performances also include David in The Mastersingers of Nurenberg at ENO, Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini at De Nederlandse Opera under Sir Mark Elder, Števa in Jenůfa at La Monnaie, a Rossini double bill at Welsh National Opera with Carlo Rizzi, Steuermann in Der Fliegender Holländer in concert with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, Iago in Rossini’s Otello for the Buxton Festival, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte directed by Sir Thomas Allen for Scottish Opera. Other performances have included roles in Billy Budd (dir. David Alden), Benvenuto Cellini (dir. Terry Gilliam), Les dialogues des Carmélites (dir. John Doyle), Intermezzo, Don Giovanni, The Beggar’s Opera, The Turn of the Screw, The Rake’s Progress, and Fidelio.
Recent concert performances include Dvorak’s Saint Ludmila with the Hallé Orchestra, Tristan und Isolde with the BBC Scottish Symphony under Donald Runnicles, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Barbican with the Philharmonia, Finzi’s Dies Natalis with the BBC CO, Elgar’s The Kingdom at Kings College, Cambridge, Bach’s Mass in b minor under Paul McCreesh, and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with L’Orchestre Nationale d’Île de France and at Wigmore Hall.
An experienced recording artist, Nicky Spence first attracted a longterm recording contract with Universal Classics at a young age and has increasing recognition on stage, radio and television as a presenter and performer alike, having contributed to tours and Platinum Selling disks all over the world. The tenor’s discography include his highly acclaimed 2016 French Song recital disc with Malcolm Martineau entitled Paradis sur Terre (Chandos) which followed their successful debut disc As You Like It (Resonus Records). Other recording collaborations have included Graham Johnson (Schumann: The Complete Songs Vol. 10 / Hyperion), Britten Songs with Malcolm Martineau (Onyx), Messiaen’s La Mort du Nombre (Stone Records) Wolf Song Series for Oxford Lieder Festival (Stone Records) and a disc of premiere Hoddinott and Jonathan Dove recordings (Naxos). Adding to his credentials in contemporary repertoire is a MarkAnthony Turnage’s song cycle A Constant Obsession, for Resonus Classics, which has received uniformly excellent reviews, premiere works by Pavel Haas (Resonus Records), a new work For an Unknown Solider written for him by Jonathan Dove and the Mozart Players (Onyx) which are both due for release next year.
Nicky Spence trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio, London. He took his place as an inaugural Harewood Artist at the ENO in 2011, which is made possible by the American Friends of the ENO.
Nicky was nominated by the International Opera Awards for Young Singer of the Year 2015 and was also one of ten artists up for this year’s Times Breakthrough Award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards celebrating the best up and coming young British talent from across the Arts industry.
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