Nicky Spence

Official videos

Follow this artist

About this artist

Tenor Nicky Spence renounced a flourishing career as a crossover singer to build a presence in opera. He has appeared widely in opera houses around Britain, the U.S., and continental Europe.
Spence was born in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1983. He started performing as a child and won a local singing competition when he was 14. He worked at a fish-and-chips shop to save money to attend the nearby Wallace Hall Academy, where he studied with Margaret Davies and was also exposed to national theater companies. Spence enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he won the Kathleen Ferrier Scholarship Award. He graduated in 2005, having already received and accepted an offer from the Universal Classics and Jazz label, which wanted to bill him as “the Scottish tenor.” Spence released his debut album, My First Love, in 2006.
That album garnered Spence several awards, and he appeared on British television and on tour with pop singer Shirley Bassey. At that point, however, Spence unexpectedly rebooted his career, returning to Guildhall and enrolling in its traditional opera studies program, studying with John Llewelyn Evans. His instincts were vindicated as he won a place at Britain’s National Opera Studio in 2009 and was awarded the Bruce Millar Gulliver Opera Prize. The following year, Spence earned a place in the permanent company of the English National Opera. He had major parts with that company in the 2010s, creating the role of Brian in Nico Muhly’s opera Two Boys in 2011 and appearing as Francesco in Berlioz’s opera Benvenuto Cellini in a 2015 production by film director Terry Gilliam. He was heard during this period on recorded song recitals on the Naxos, Stone, and Chandos labels. Spence reprised his Muhly role at the Metropolitan Opera in 2013 and has gone on to appear at prestigious international houses such as the Frankfurt Opera (in Rossini’s La gazza ladra, 2014) and the Opéra de Lyon in France (in Janáček’s The House of the Dead, 2019). He has appeared on recordings on the Hyperion, Resonus Classics, and Albion labels, notably on the latter in two volumes of folk song settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 2020 and 2021. During the pandemic of those years, Spence served as a volunteer vaccinator. ~ James Manheim