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CLASSICAL AND JAZZ: Toby Spence is set to sing in two Proms

Published: 2 August, 2012

Barely six months after an operation for thyroid cancer, Islington resident Toby Spence is picking up his singing career again.

The acclaimed tenor is singing in two Proms next week before embarking on a European tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – and in late October he’s making his debut at the New York Met.

Spence was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December last year after he had been on stage for the first performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger at the Royal Opera House.

An operation to remove his thyroid and several lymph nodes from his neck was carried out in February.

“The surgery has been a great success,” he said in a statement issued by his publicist. “My thyroid cancer was readily treatable and I have been in the hands of a first-class medical team at University College London Hospital. They are delighted with my progress so far. Although I have had to allow time for the natural healing process to take its course, I am encouraged by my progress and feel hopeful that I will return to full vocal strength in the near future.”

That hope looks like being realised. After cancelling some engagements in the spring, Spence is singing in two Proms at the Royal Albert Hall next week. In the first, on Thursday evening, he’s singing in a tribute to Ivor Novello along with soprano Sophie Bevan. Then, two days later, he’s singing in Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts. Later this month he’s singing in three performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Birmingham, Lucerne and Bonn.

But the big challenge is his debut at the Met in late October in eight performances of Thomas Ardes’s opera The Tempest. He’s singing the role of Ferdinand, which he originally sang at its first performance at the Royal Opera House in 2004.


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