Performance Database

Clay Hilley

Praised in The New York Times for his “vocal heft, clarion sound and stamina,” heldentenor Clay Hilley has appeared on many international stages in the most demanding operatic repertoire.  At age 39 he sang the title role of Wagner’s Siegfried in Stefan Herheim’s new Ring Cycle at Deutsche Oper Berlin, under the baton of Sir Donald Runnicles, and he returns to the theatre in November 2021 and January 2022 for revival performances.

The 2021-22 season sees the tenor in two prominent debuts: with Dutch National Opera as the title role of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg in a new production by Nanouk Leopold, which heralds the arrival of the company’s new Music Director, Lorenzo Viotti; and at the Tiroler Festspiele Erl as Siegmund in a new production of Die Walküre directed by KS Brigitte Fassbaender.  He sings the title role of Samson et Dalila in a fully-staged presentation at Bob Jones University and a vibrant concert schedule includes Aida Act 3 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicola Luisotti, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Siegfried Act 3 with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra led by Chief Conductor Erik Nielsen.

Highlights of last season include Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, a concert presentation of Tristan und Isolde Act 2 with Edward Gardner leading the Orchestra of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the role of Phoebus in Schmidt’s Notre Dame at Theatre St. Gallen.  

Clay Hilley joined Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019-20 for performances of Dead Man Walking and to cover Siegfried in Der Ring des Nibelungen.  Other engagements that season included the Drum Major in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production by William Kentridge of Wozzeck, and a semi-staged presentation of Die Tote Stadt at Bard SummerFest.

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 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 Menelaus 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 tenor received his 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.

Engagements in Bayreuth

Year Opera Part
2023 Tristan und Isolde Tristan
2022 Götterdämmerung Siegfried