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. He has been acclaimed by The New York Times for his “vocal heft, clarion sound and stamina.”

The 2019-20 season brings Clay Hilley to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for performances of Dead Man Walking and to cover Siegmund and Siegfried in Der Ring des Nibelungen, to the Metropolitan Opera to cover the role of the Drum Major in William Kentridge’s new production of Wozzeck, to the National Theater Mannheim for the title role in Siegfried conducted by Alexander Soddy, and to Bard SummerFest as Paul in a semi-staged presentation of Die Tote Stadt.

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.

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 as Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Marin Alsop and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival, with John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra, as well as Das Lied von der Erde with The Apollo Orchestra of Washington, D.C.  Emerging as a world class Straussian tenor, he has sung Menelas in Die ägyptische Helena with Gil Rose and Odyssey Opera and Gundelfingen in Feuersnot with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

The Wagner Society of New York presented Clay Hilley in recital after he received their 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’s powerful voice and expressive delivery perfectly complemented soprano Christine Goerke.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jon Ross (Fidelio, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, 7 June 2019)

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