Clay Hilley


The role is a daunting challenge for a heroic tenor. Clay Hilley brought vocal heft, clarion sound and stamina to the role.

- The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini (Dvořák’s Dimitrij, Bard Music Festival, July 2017) -


American heldentenor, Clay Hilley, is poised for a prominent international career in the most demanding roles of the operatic repertory.  From Bacchus to Florestan and Canio to Laca, the Georgia native has been acclaimed by The New York Times for his “vocal heft, clarion sound and stamina.”

Honing his repertoire and stage experience at first by covering in the leading international opera houses of North America, engagements have included Parsifal with Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Metropolitan Opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen with Donald Runnicles and Turandot conducted by Nicola Luisotti at San Francisco Opera, Siegfried at the Canadian Opera Company led by Johannes Debus, and Samson et Dalila under the baton of Emmanuel Villaume at The Dallas Opera.

This season Mr. Hilley performs the role of Florestan in Fidelio with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Menelas in Die Ägyptische Helena with Odyssey Opera in Boston and returns as Paul in Die Tote Stadt to the Bard Music Festival. In recent seasons Clay Hilley has performed the title role of Dvořák’s Dimitrij in a new production by Anne Bogart for the Bard Music Festival conducted by Leon Botstein, the title role of Mozart’s Idomeneo both in a new production by Arila Siegert at the Salzburger Landestheater under the baton of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and at the Theater Würzburg in a production by Stefan Suschke conducted by Enrico Calesso, Radamès in Aida with Opera Southwest and Baltimore Concert Opera, Canio in Pagliacci with Virginia Opera, and Erik in Der fliegende Holländer with Austin Lyric Opera.

Concert experience includes performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra and with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra and Das Lied von der Erde with The Apollo Orchestra of Washington, D.C., as well as Strauss’ Feuersnot with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra for his Carnegie Hall debut.

The Wagner Society of New York presented Clay Hilley in recital, singing a program of Mahler, Janáček, Mozart, Dvořák, and Wagner following the Society’s recognition of the tenor with its Top Prize, the Robert Lauch Award, in 2015.  He received the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education at the University of Georgia, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Georgia State University, a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Performer’s Certificate from the Opera Institute at Boston University.

Artist Website


European Management:
Thomas Channell
M: +49 (0)171 212 6728

General Management:
Bill Palant, Étude Arts
T: +1 929 777 0775

…Hilley has something that very few singers have nowadays and that is he can act with his voice and can captivate audiences once he begins.  For opera houses saying there are no dramatic tenors, look no further as Clay Hilley is a tenor on the rise who needs attention.

Operawire, Francisco Salazar (Recital, Wagner Society of New York)

Clay Hilley, as Menelas, was a powerhouse, a heldentenor of apparently indefatigable torque and point; some of his clarion notes may still be bouncing around Jordan Hall’s rafters.

The Boston Globe (Die ägyptische Helena, Odyssey Opera, 23 April 2019)

Menelas is Strauss’ longest and most unforgiving tenor part. Its tessitura is high and relentless, but the singer must also be able to lighten and sweeten the voice for the more lyrical passages. Clay Hilley had the capacity to master both aspects, plus the stamina to maintain that mastery. His voice has power and ping, carrying over Strauss’ loudest outbursts, and convincingly expresses Menelas’ delirium without devolving into ear-splitting hysteria.

- Bachtrack (Die ägyptische Helena, Odyssey Opera, 21 April 2019) -


Photo Credit: Suzanne Vinnik






Idomeneo: Salzburger Landestheater

Ariadne auf Naxos: National Opera Center