Sam Handley

Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice

Sam Handley, bass-baritone, has been praised for “his rich, burnished” voice and the “genuine emotional depth of his characterizations.” He has performed more than a dozen roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago (where he was also a member of the Ryan Opera Center) including Hans Folz in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Quince in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tom in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Handley made his Asian debut as Basilio in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at the National Centre for Performing Arts (Beijing) under the baton of Lorin Maazel, with whom he had previously performed Talpa and Betto in Il Trittico and Colline in La Boheme. On the symphonic stage, his deep repertoire encircles masterworks of Handel, Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Verdi and Mozart, in whose Requiem Handley has been described as “striking in the tuba mirum.”

Sam joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera in 2017 for Der Rosenkavalier. Further opera credits include Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore (Tiroler Festival, Erl, Austria), Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Lyric Opera of Chicago for Fellow Travelers, NCPA (Bejing) to sing Konrad Nachtigall in Die Meistersinger, a role Handley also performed with San Francisco Opera plus Alberich in The Essential Ring with the Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire.  He sang Sprecher in Opera Colorado’s production of Die Zauberflöte, Basilio with the Atlanta Opera and European (and role) debut as Escamillo in a new production of Carmen with Theater Aachen. Early career highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni with the Ryan Opera Center, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with the Merola Opera Program, the title role of Don Pasquale on tour with the Santa Fe Opera, Mr. Emerson in Nelson’s A Room with a View (DVD by Newport classics), Sancho in Telemann’s Don Quichotte and Polyphemus in Acis and Galatea with Houston’s Mercury Baroque (KUHF records), Bottom in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Caspar in Weber’s Der Freischütz, Jaggers in Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire, the King in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, Dikoj in Janácek’s Katya Kabanova and Dr. Miracle in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

Sam has performed the national anthem at Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears and has performed with Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) for Waters’ opera Ça Ira.

A fervent proponent of contemporary composers, Sam has delivered several world premieres, including Wlad Marhulets’ The Property with Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, and the music of Scott Gendel and Dan Black with the Madison Contemporary Orchestra. He has been a guest artist with the Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst at both Severance and Carnegie Halls, Houston Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia with James Conlon. Among his several recordings, Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming is available through Newport Classics and the DVD of his collaboration with Peter Schickele for P.D.Q. Bach in Houston: We Have a Problem is available from Acorn Media.  

Handley has long loved sharing his experience and knowledge of the art of singing and was a teaching fellow during both his master's and doctoral studies. He has taught at UW-Platteville, Lee College, San Jacinto College, North Park University, Madison Summer Music Clinic, and Musica nelle Marche (Urbino, Italy) and is in demand as a master teacher, clinician and adjudicator. Handley is visiting assistant professor of voice at Northern Illinois University while on leave of absence generously granted by DePaul University, where he has taught since 2018. He is president of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and executive and artistic director of Green Lake Festival of Music (GLFM).

As an administrator, Sam has overseen the growth of GLFM since 2020, including a new Children’s Chorus in collaboration with the local Boys and Girls Club, a reinstatement of the Choral Institute to promote and perform choral masterworks, a restructuring of the Chamber Music Institute, the first female composer-in-residence and the first composer-in-residence of color. Commitment to equity and access are core values for season themes such as 2023: Hemispheres Uniting and 2024: A Place for All. GLFM has established itself as a welcoming home for all music makers without charging admission for concerts. Instead, it relies primarily on free-will donations, sponsorships, grants, volunteer support, community involvement and sound fiscal management.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Sam now resides in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, especially while camping, hiking, sailing, cooking, fine dining and keeping up with their Labrador Finzi!


D.M.A., Vocal Performance, Business (Marketing), University of Houston


  • Voice


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