English tenor Toby Spence made his Royal Opera debut in 1996 as Ovando (Alzira). His many Royal Opera roles since include Simpleton (Boris Godunov), Ferdinand (The Tempest), Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Vána Kudrjáš (Kát’a Kabanová), Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress), David (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (Gloriana), and Song of the Earth for The Royal Ballet. In the 2014/15 Season he returns to sing Tamino (Die Zauberflöte).
Spence grew up in London and read Music at New College, Oxford. He went on to study with David Pollard at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and made his professional debut as Idamante (Idomeneo) with Welsh National Opera. He sings regularly with English National Opera, where his many roles include Lensky (Eugene Onegin), Tamino, Faust and Candide. Engagements elsewhere include Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw) for Glyndebourne Festival, Tom Rakewell for Teatro Real and Theater an der Wien, Pylade (Iphigénie en Tauride) for Hamburg State Opera, Laërte (Hamlet), Antonio (The Tempest) and Tamino for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Tito (La clemenza di Tito) for Bavarian State Opera and Vienna State Opera and Henry Morosus (Die schweigsame Frau) in Munich.
Spence regularly sings in concert and recital, in repertory including Bach’s St John Passion, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Britten’s War Requiem. In 2012 he founded the recital series Wardsbrook Concerts with his brother Magnus. Awards include the 2011 Royal Philharmonic Society Singer of the Year.
News and features
2 December 2014
Andrea Chénier, La bohème, Die Zauberflöte and others on Opera on 3.
25 June 2013
Audience tweets from the final live relay of the 2012/13 Cinema Season.
21 June 2013
A selection of your tweets from the opening night of Richard Jones's new production.
20 June 2013
Find out more about Britten’s underperformed gem from the lead singers.
29 January 2013
The Director of The Royal Opera on Richard Jones’s new production.
9 January 2012
Concert performance of Wagner's opera to take place on 11 January.
Susan Bullock as Queen Elizabeth I, Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex and Patricia Bardon as Countess of Essex in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Kate Royal as Lady Rich, Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex. Patricia Bardon as the Countess of Essex and Mark Stone as Lord Mountjoy in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex, Mark Stone as Lord Mountjoy and Kate Royal as Lady Rich in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex and Susan Bullock as Queen Elizabeth I in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Susan Bullock as Queen Elizabeth I, Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex and Mark Stone as Lord Mountjoy in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Toby Spence as the Earl of Essex and Mark Stone as Lord Mountjoy in Gloriana © ROH / Clive Barda 2013
Toby Spence in Gloriana, The Royal Opera © ROH/Clive Barda, 2013
Toby Spence as David, Simon O'Neill as Walther and apprentices in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Clive Barda / ROH 2011
Toby Spence as David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Clive Barda / ROH 2011