Hailed by Broadway World as "every bit the heldentenor that Siegfried demands," young tenor Clay Hilley is already in demand internationally for German, Czech, Italian, and French heroes.
The New York Times reviewed his recent portrayal of Dvořák's Dimitrij, "The role is a daunting challenge for a heroic tenor. Clay Hilley brought vocal heft, clarion sound and stamina to the role." Opera News opined: "Tenor Clay Hilley...communicated Dimitrij's sincerity and sang the beleaguered leader's difficult, high-lying music with musical skill, emotional investment and attractive tone quality. Hilley's Wagnerian potential extends to clear suitability for several Slavic roles."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said of his Siegfried, "...if tenor Clay Hilley approaches his career intelligently, he’ll be playing the young hero for years to come... It’s a voice with beauty, size and heft, and the high tessitura appeared to be no problem for him."
In 2017/2018 Hilley joins the roster of The Metropolitan Opera, covering the title role in Parsifal; San Francisco Opera, covering Calaf (Turandot), Siegmund (Die Walküre), Siegfried (Siegfried), and Siegfried (Götterdämmerung); and The Dallas Opera, covering Samson (Samson et Dalila).
On only forty-eight hours’ notice in November 2017, Clay took on — for the first time, and with only one single rehearsal — the tenor solos in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde for The Apollo Orchestra in Washington D.C.
In January of 2018 the Wagner Society of New York presents Clay in recital, singing a program of Mahler, Janáček, Mozart, Dvořák, and Wagner. This Society awarded Hilley its Top Prize, the Robert Lauch Award, in 2015.
In future seasons Hilley returns to San Francisco Opera; he also joins for the first time the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The 2016/2017 season took Clay to Virginia Opera (Canio, Pagliacci), Austin Lyric Opera (Erik, The Flying Dutchman), Bard Summerscape (Dimitrij), Washington National Opera (Father Grenville, Dead Man Walking), and Opera Project Columbus (Luigi, Il tabarro). Hilley also flew to Salzburg on three days’ notice to relieve an ailing tenor colleague in a production of Idomeneo for the Salzburger Landestheater.
Other highlights from recent seasons include Siegfried (covering the title role for the Canadian Opera Company), Siegfried (Götterdämmerung), Radamés (Aïda), and Florestan (Fidelio).
On the concert stage, Clay has appeared at Carnegie Hall as Gundelfingen in Strauss's Feuersnot, and as tenor soloist for Mahler's Symphony no. 8. He debuted at Lincoln Center in 2013 as tenor soloist for Verdi's Requiem.
A native of Georgia, he received the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education at the University of Georgia, the 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.