The English National Opera Orchestra, with Tenor Nicky Spence Conductor Richard Farnes

“Unfortunately, Joseph Calleja is unwell and will not be able to fly to England to sing in Oxford tomorrow. I am sorry that my good friend and wonderful tenor has had to pull out; but I am immensely grateful to the ENO and to Nicky Spence who immediately said yes to help us out last minute when I asked yesterday.  Everyone has pulled all the stops in the last 24 hours to make this a marvellous evening for all.  Awarded an Order of the British Empire in The King’s Birthday Honours in 2023, Nicky Spence needs no introduction.  He is Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award 2024, Personality of the Year Award BBC Music Magazine 2022, and Solo Vocal Award on both the Gramophone Magazine and the BBC Music Magazine.  He is the Ambassador for Help Musicians and President Elect of the Independent Society of Musician, taking up the position in 2024/25.  The programme has been adapted for this change and will include music by Handel, Richard Strauss, Bizet, Mascagni, Verdi, Puccini, as well as some gorgeous Lehár, and Lalo, and even some Tosti and Neapolitan Songs. I am sure we are all in for a treat!” Dr Michelle Castelletti, Director, Oxford Festival of the Arts

Here is a message from Joseph Calleja: LINK


An artist of great integrity, Nicky Spence’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship have earned him a place at the top of the music profession. He was made an OBE in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours, and is the winner of the RPS Singer Award 2024.  The 2023/24 season sees him return to the Opéra National de Paris as Edmundo, Marquès de Nobile in Adès’ The Exterminating Angel, and to La Monnaie as Loge in Das Rheingold. In concert he sings Števa in Jenůfa with the London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle, and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Ben Goldscheider and the Britten Sinfonia. Recent highlights include Laca in Claus Guth’s new production of Jenůfa for the Royal Opera, Siegmund in Richard Jones’ new production of The Valkyrie for the English National Opera, Albert Gregor for the Deutsche Staatsoper, Tichon in Damiano Michieletto’s new production of Káťa Kabanová at the Glyndebourne Festival and Erik Der Fliegende Holländer for Grange Park Opera. Nicky gives recitals internationally, and records prolifically. In 2020, he won the BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award and Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award for his critically acclaimed recording of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared. The BBC Music Magazine awarded him Personality of the Year in 2022. Nicky is President Elect of the Independent Society of Musicians, and will take up the position in the 2024/25 Season.


…with the conductor undoubtedly the star of the show: how long before Richard Farnes is recognised as a national treasure? Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph

English conductor Richard Farnes is as persuasive in his interpretations of the operas of Britten, Mozart, Verdi and Janáček, as he is when he takes Wagner’s Ring Cycle on the road around the UK. During his time at Opera North, he developed a close affinity with Wagner, touring concert performances of the operas across the UK. His project to perform the entire Ring Cycle six times in 2016 won public and critical acclaim, including the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Opera and Music Theatre award, with Farnes named Conductor of the Year. In recent years Farnes’ international profile has flourished. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in February 2019 with Verdi’s Falstaff and was due to return in 2020 to conduct Manon Lescaut, before the Coronavirus crisis. In 2020 he conducted La Traviata with Royal Danish Opera. As well as specialising in opera he guest conducts symphonic orchestras across the UK, including London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.  The festival is proud to have established this exciting new partnership with the ENO.


Giuseppe Verdi                    Overture (La Forza del Destino)
George Frideric Handel    Silent Worship – Non lo dirò col labbro (Tolomeo)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky   Lensky’s Aria: Kuda, kuda vï udalilis (Eugene Onegin)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky   Polonaise – Act 3 (Eugene Onegin)
Richard Strauss                    8 Gedichte aus ‘Letzte Blätter’, Op.10: Zueignung / Cäcilie
Édouard Lalo                         Vainement, ma bien-aimée (Le Roi D’ys)
Jules Massenet                     Méditation (Thaïs) Soloist:  David Greed
Jules Massenet                     En fermant les yeux (Manon Lescaut)
Paolo Tosti                             L’Ultima Canzone


Johann Strauss                   Overture (Die Fledermaus)
Eduardo di Capua               O Sole Mio
Agustín Lara                        Granada
Pietro Mascagni                  Intermezzo (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Georges Bizet                       Prelude – Act IV (Carmen)
Giacomo Puccini                 Nessun Dorma (Turandot)


Jun 27 2024


7:30 pm

More Info

Book here


Oxford Town Hall
St Aldate's