Toby Spence


Country: England
Toby Spence is a British tenor who by the turn of the century had begun to establish a solid career, particularly in the fields of early opera and concert singing.

He was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford, a position won by competitive audition that awards those who qualify an education at Oxford while singing daily services and other musical activities with the Choir of New College. He graduated from Oxford with honors. He then attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Before he graduated, he had already made his debut at London's Barbican Centre singing in Sibelius' Incidental Music to The Tempest with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi, sung with the RIAS Berlin in Handel's Theodora, toured with the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance Umbrella singing in Brahms' Liebeslieder-Walzer, and made his Wigmore Hall, London, recital debut in the Schubertiade Series.

He won a scholarship to study in 1995 at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. While still a student he also sang at the Cheltenham and Brighton Festivals.

While in the United States he made a concert debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnanyi and then, in the same debut season, appeared with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Richard Hickox, with John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, and with the Royal Philharmonic and Royal Scottish National Orchestras.

Also that year, he sang in two major oratorio performances: Haydn's The Creation and Bach's St. Matthew Passion, both with Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.

His operatic debut with the Welsh National Opera also took place in the 1995/1996 season. He sang the role of Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo and went on during that season to debut at La Monnaie in Brussels as Pane in Cavalli's La Calisto under René Jacobs, to repeat the role of Idamante at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and to sing in Alzira under Mark Elder at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London.

His debut at the Salzburg Festival was in 1996 with Roger Norrington, where Spence sang in Mozart's Mitridate, Rè di Ponto in a concert performance, and sang with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting at the Edinburgh Festival. In the 1996/1997 season, he again chose Idamante as a debut role, this time at the Scottish Opera, and returned to Brussels where he sang Tamino in Mozart's Magic Flute.

Other operas in which he has appeared include Il matrimonio segreto with the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria with the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam and on tour in Sydney, Rossini's The Barber of Seville (as Almaviva), Oronte in Alcina, David in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (La Monnaie), and Hylas in Les Troyens (Salzburg Festival).

He has appeared in concert with the Luxembourg Philharmonic, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Les Musiciens du Louvre, the Montreux Festival, the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Gergiev, the San Francisco Symphony with Tilson Thomas conducting, and the BBC Proms concerts.

His recordings include a Philips release of the St. Matthew Passion performance with Brüggen. He has appeared on the Deutsche Grammophon, Hyperion, EMI, Collins Classics, Decca, and BMG-RCA labels.

There are 46 Toby Spence recordings available.

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