Nicholas Spanos grew up singing along with his mother in their home in Thessaloniki. Although he had never heard opera as a child, he had a passion for music and began studies in his early twenties, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Voice/Opera Performance. Globally acclaimed for his talent as one of few countertenors in the world, he has graced many stages, including the historic Epidauros in Greece, Austria, Italy, and more recently Australia, where he performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.
His voice has been described by critics as wonderfully soft, lyrical, unrestrained and clear with a high pitch that leads far into the soprano range.
GCT had the chance to chat with Nicholas about his passion for music and the experiences it has gifted him with
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Serres, Greece. I stayed there till the age of 12 and then moved to Thessaloniki, which I consider more my home town.
Do you come from a musical family?
Not professionally, but my mum used to always sing at home, having a quite formidable soprano voice (never trained, rather a natural talent).
Tell us about your journey with music? Did you realise from a young age that you had a talent and love of singing?
I did realise I had an attraction towards music, but I never thought I was going to become a singer. I used to sing along with my mum at home, but that was it. As a child I wanted to be a concert pianist but unfortunately we had no opportunity to have a piano at home, so I spent all my childhood and puberty dreaming about it. I took some accordion lessons at age 10, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I only got to have piano lessons at the age of 18!
How did you get your first career break?
I auditioned for a part in the Greek National Opera, while I was still a student and they took me – simple as that.
What have been some of your biggest career highlights?
Singing the Chorus Leader in an Ancient Greek drama (Alcestis by Euripides) in 2009 with the National Theater of Greece in the ancient theater in Epidaurus. A truly unforgettable experience! And Handel’s Messiah here in Australia also ranks up as a great moment!
What have been some of your challenges?
Singing in front of a huge audience in an open-air concert in Vienna, where I live. It was in 2011, at the opening ceremony of the Life Ball, an annual event that thousands watch live and millions on TV worldwide!
Which are your favourite pieces to perform?
Oh, that’s a hard question. I was trained in opera performance, so the opera stage is really home to me, but my heart truly lies in the German and French song repertoire, as well as the Greek art song of the 19th and 20th century. I also studied Lied and Oratorio in Vienna, so that I could better interpret such repertoire. So, if I absolutely have to choose, I’d say I love Schubert, especially his song cycle called “Winterreise” (Winter Journey). In opera, I like Gluck’s Orfeo very much, as well as Nerone in “The coronation of Poppea” by Monteverdi.
Who would you love to collaborate with and why?
Well, coming to Australia took one person off my list, as Paul Dyer (our conductor and leader of the Australia Brandenburg Orchestra) has always been a candidate. I knew of him and his work for a long long time and appreciated what he does.
I don’t necessarily care about working with big names, as big names aren’t always the best musicians. There’s a lot of marketing involved in this business, which sometimes just doesn’t care about promoting quality. All I care about is making quality music with people that are primarily interesting persons and serve the music before anything else.
What inspires you?
Beauty in all its forms.
What has been one piece of advice you received which has stayed with you?
“If it hurts, it’s wrong.”
What does 2017 hold in store for you?
After Sydney, I go back to Austria for a couple of concerts, then off to Taiwan for a concert with the Symphony Orchestra there, then back to Germany, then Greece, then a recording in Vienna… and that’s until April. The rest, I forget, but it’s a busy year!