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Toby Spence

  • Tenor


Toby Spence press reviews

English National Opera / Faust, 2010
'Still, it's a highly professional, extremely watchable evening, deeply enhanced by the superstar Faust of Toby Spence. Here was a superb performance on almost every level, with the money notes, the lyricism, the clear diction, the colour, the intelligence, the looks and the acting ability that the role needs.'
Musical Criticism, September 19, 2010
'...Spence excelled himself in a performance (both vocally and dramatically) that I can only describe as world class – the indisputable elegance of his vocal timbre enhanced by a newly-acquired powerful, heroic edge and impeccably clear diction.  His aria “Salut! demeure chaste et pure” (here translated as “This sweet abode of humble virtue”) was just exquisite – passionately expressive, sensitively phrased and crowned with a glorious, perfectly controlled top C that brought the house down.  It is a truly beautiful instrument and there will be many exciting new repertoire possibilities for this talented British star if the voice continues to grow and develop in a heavier direction.  Personally, I’d sell my soul to hear him do Werther one day.....who knows?'
Opera Britannia, September 19, 2010

'Toby Spence brings ardour and panache to the title role...'
Evening Standard, September 20, 2010
'Toby Spence in the title role delivers an abundance of visceral thrills from the high-lying tessitura of the writing...'
The Independent, September 19, 2010
'Toby Spence's strong, thick voice held the course wonderfully as Faust, right to the bitter beltering final trio.'
The Arts Desk, September 19, 2010
BBC Proms, 2010/Cadogan Hall

'Tenor Toby Spence sang a sharply intense performance of [Schumann’s Liederkreis]'
Financial Times, August 30, 2010
Bayerische Staatsoper / Die Schweigsame Frau, July, 2010
'...die Damrau und ihr Duopartner alias Henry alias Toby Spence erklimmen mühelos die von Strauss geforderten Höhen und Schwierigkeiten.'
Wiener Zeitung, July 22, 2010
'Ähnlich souverän und höhensicher gestaltet Toby Spence die Rolle des Geliebten Henry.'
Frankfurter Allgemeine, July 22, 2010

'Als charmant auftretender Henry fasziniert Toby Spence mit tenoralem Glanz...'
Nürnberger Zeitung, July 22, 2010
'Neben ihr gehört die schönste Stimme des Abends Toby Spence alias Henry. Sein heller, hoher Tenor strahlt um die Wette mit seiner Bühnerscheinung.'
Crescendo, July 21, 2010
'Eine Entdeckung ist Toby Spence als Henry, mit anmutig strahlendem Tenor.'
Klassik Info, July 21, 2010

'Tenor Toby Spence ist ein strahlend-leichter Henry...', July 21, 2010
Metropolitan Opera/ Hamlet - March 2010
'...the excellent lyric tenor Toby Spence, in his Met debut, scored as Laertes...'
Classical Review, March 18, 2010
'The versatile British tenor Toby Spence, in his Met debut, excelled in the short but crucial role of Laërte.'
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, March 17, 2010
'Debuting tenor Toby Spence made a terrific impression in his two scenes as Laertes.'
Associated Press, March 17, 2010
Scottish Ensemble/ Songs of Jacques Brel - February, 2010
'But the evening belonged to tenor Toby Spence (amplified) for his electric and transformational characterisation of the songs of Jacques Brel, accompanied by the ensemble with piano, kit and the amazingly flexible accordion playing of Ian Watson. The voice was unmistakably Spence’s, but the “correctness” of the great opera singer was ditched and replaced by a convincing, darker, meatier, smokier, more conversational sound in a breathtaking set, lilting and swaying toweringly through the Valse a Mille Temps, roaring ironically through the anthemic Amsterdam, speaking his way through Jef, and delivering Les Bourgeois with a satirical edge
Spence moved with ease from his opera-house comfort zone into the relaxed ethos of the bar room, bringing all of his dramatic powers with him and, without apparent effort, layering them into this fantastic music with authority, passion and credibility. It was an experience to cherish.'
Glasgow Herald, Michael Tumelty, February 14, 2010
'The entire second half was given over to an increasingly spell-binding account of nine Jacques Brel songs in which Toby Spence unforgettably partnered the Scottish Ensemble, now enlarged with accordion, piano and percussion, Iain Sandilands. As he announced, this was for the first time ever. He began with J’arrive and was a little histrionic before settling. Amsterdam began in a Sprechgesang way before moving to the more lyrical. Fernand was superbly macabre with the Scottish Ensemble revealing itself as a backing group de luxe. Jef showed some mawkishness, perhaps revealing Toby Spence’s choice of an encore other than Ne Me Quitte Pas.
Vesoul was a brilliant tongue-twister with the Scottish Ensemble in Big Band mode and exciting playing from Ian Watson. Au Suivant had magnificent power and Les bourgeois had the young firebrands turning old and conventional by adopting a clipped English French accent. La Valse à mille temps provided a vertiginous climax with La Chanson des Vieux Amants as an encore. In these chansons Toby Spence had brilliantly traversed from delirious joy to deep sadness.'
Ian Stuart-Hunter/ Perthshire Advertiser, February 9, 2010
Ivanhoe - Chandos 2010
'The performance benefits...from tenor Toby Spence's beautiful, shapely performance in the title role.'
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, April 11, 2010
'Toby Spence admirably balances heroic and lyrical demands, culminating in a fine Act 3 solo "Come gentle sleep".'
Andrew Lamb, Gramophone Magazine - March 2010
'A superb A-list cast of British soloists is led by Neal Davies as King Richard, Toby Spence as Ivanhoe and Geraldine McGreevy as Rebecca. There are lovely set pieces, including a touching aria for Rowena (Janice Watson) and a brooding one for Ulrica (Catherine Wyn-Rogers)...'
The Observer, February 21, 2010
The Rake’s Progress – Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 2010
'Best of all, both scenically and vocally, was Toby Spence's Tom; he strode the stage with great energy, his diction was crystal clear thorughout, and his variation of ton - from roaring boy to bored roué to bently, shattered romantic - captured brilliantly the many aspects of this most demanding of roles.'
Opera Magazine, April 2010
'The brightest spark in this revival is Toby Spence as Tom Rakewell. It helps that Spence looks the innocent boy, sporting a puppyish joie de vivre. He alone puts across the words with a cutting edge and his singing fills the theatre...'
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, January 26, 2010
'Toby Spence clearly believes in every word that he sings of the
salty, dense libretto, and rather than act the usual petulant naïf, he goes for something deeper. Auden believed this Rake to be a manic depressive; rouged up in his trailer and rubbing his gums with cocaine,
Spence’s plaintive cry of “I wish I were happy” rings hauntingly true.'
The Times, January 26, 2010
‘Toby Spence's Tom Rakewell matches a handsome physique with an attractive, open-throated tone that recalls the innocence of the country boy even when he's sniffing lines of cocaine.’
Barry Millington, Evening Standard  January 25, 2010
Dream of Gerontius, Wiener Philharmoniker/ Rattle, December, 2009
Bravourös meisterte Einspringer Toby Spence die enorm schwierige Tenorpartie des Gerontius.
Wiener Zeitung, December 8, 2009
Toby Spence Verlieh seinen lichten,  doch im Ernstfall expressiv-kraftvollen Tenor. Selbst dort, wo Elgar seinem strapazierten Titelhelden erleichternde Versionen des Notentextes suggeriert, bleibt Spence mit Animo beim schwierigen Original – und reüssiert.
Die Presse, December 12, 2009
Les Arts Florissants/ William Christie – December, 2009
‘…Toby Spence's breezy, virile tenor.’
Anna Picard, The Independent, December 6, 2009
Beethoven 9, Los Angeles Philharmonic/ Dudamel, 2009
'...and four terrific vocal soloists (Measha Brueggergosman, Michelle DeYoung, Toby Spence and Matthew Rose) reached possible record levels of exhilaration.'
Mostly Mozart Festival 2009
'Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings served primarily as a vehicle for Toby Spence, who sang the nocturnal poems with sweetness, purity and pathos worthy of the original interpreter, Peter Pears.'
Financial Times/ Martin Bernheimer - August 4 2009
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/ Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings/ June 2009
'...Spence in his moving, communicative and involving delivery of the various well-chosen poems Britten sets in these magical nocturnal evocations.There was no need for printed texts, given the intelligent clarity of Spence’s diction and his persuasively evocative body-language.'
Birmingham Post/ Christopher Morley - 19/06/09
Iphigenie enTauride/ Hamburg - 2009
'...der wunderbare Toby Spence als lyrischer Pylades...'
Hamburg Opera Newsletter/ May 25, 2009
'So dringt auch Toby Spence als Pylade mit stimmlicher Kraft und Farbe tief ein.'
Hamburger Morgenpost 25/05/09
'Ein Theatertier von explosivem Darstellungsdrang, zu dem der wunderbare Toby Spence als lyrischer Pylades in blendendem Kontrast stand.'
Frankfurter Randschau 25/05/09
'Im Pylade von Toby Spence hat dieser Oreste einen denkbar nobel singenden Tenor-Weggefährten.'
KN- online 25/05/09
CBSO/ There Was A Child – May, 2009
‘Toby Spence and Mary Plazas hit the bull’s-eye with their solo stints — eloquent expressions of boyish abandon, the wonder of birth and a mother’s grief.’
Geoff Brown, The Times, May 2009
Resurrezione/ Barbican Centre/ April, 2009
'Toby Spence's tenor voice is really a salon instrument; small and perfectly formed, it rather suited the invariably smooth and lyric music of St John. His delightful 'Cosi la tortorella' set a gently pastoral melody line against an aggressive scalic accompaniment in unison strings – an unusual and rather difficult juxtaposition that he sustained well, rendering its potentially rather lumpy texture with elegant command.'
Musical Criticism
Rake’s Progress/ Madrid - 2009
'The protagonist, Tom Rakewell,  was  Toby Spence, who was simply wonderful. He has the right figure for the role, is  the right age, has a pleasant voice, is an outstanding actor and always  lived the character. For me,  he was by far the best in the cast.'
Seen and Heard/ José M Irurzun
'Toby Spence borda el personaje de Tom Rakewell. Los debutantes en esta ópera cumplieron sobradamente y aún irán a más.'
El Pais, January 12/ 2009
'... del mismo modo que Toby Spence parace el prototipo del pusilanimey libertino Toim Rakewell de quien, ademas, obtiene sutiles inflexiones que enriquecen el personaje y las cuircunstancias.'
ABC, January 12/ 2009
'Toby Spence es un dinamico protagonista vocal y actoralmente.'
El Mundo, January 12/ 2009