School of Music > Faculty & Staff > Faculty A-Z > Jeff Ray

Jeffrey Ray

DePaul University
Manhattan School of Music

Hailed as a marvelous artist and baritone, Jeffrey Ray has been lauded by critics and presenters for his distinctive, warm, expressive voice and charming personality. Jeffrey Ray is an alumnus of DePaul University’s School of Music and Manhattan School of Music, as well as Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, now the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. 

Upon finishing his degree at DePaul, Jeffrey was accepted into the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute before beginning his studies at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). While a student at MSM, Jeffrey was cast in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s premier of Orpheus Descending with Lyric Opera Center for American Artists and joined the company the following year. His Lyric Opera credits included Andrea Chenier, Die Zauberflöte, Don Pasquale, Un Re in Ascolto, La Traviata, Faust, Turandot, Les Contes d’Hoffman and The Ghosts of Versailles.  Jeffrey has performed in operatic and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. Highlights from his career have included numerous performances with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Berlin’s Deutche Oper, Aalto Theater Essen, and Salt Lake Opera. He has been heard frequently in the roles of Don Giovanni, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Marcello in La Boheme, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Germont in La Traviata, Valentin in Faust, Lescaut in Manon, as the Father in Hänsel und Gretel, Harasta in The Cunning Little Vixen and Harry Easter in Street Scene.  

Jeffrey has performed as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Avery Fischer Hall. He has sung with the Berlin Rundfunks Orchester and the Munich Bach Festival and has been featured at the Ravinia Festival as well as the Opera Festival of Chicago. He has received awards from the American Opera Society, American-Berlin Opera Foundation, Bel Canto Foundation, Museum Carolino Augusteum-Salzburg, Austrian-American Society, Cliff Dwellers, and the Union League Club, where he has also served as a judge for the Luminarts Cultural Foundation.

Mr. Ray takes great joy in teaching his many talented students at DePaul University’s School of Music, where he received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2022, as well as The University of Chicago, where he has been named to the prestigious New Music Ensemble along with the acclaimed Spektral Quartet.  At DePaul, Jeffrey was honored to serve as the director of DePaul Summer Voice, a weeklong program intended to offer high school and current college level students the opportunity to prepare audition repertoire with the world-class faculty at DePaul, a program which he created along with Ben Polancich.

Jeffrey’s students have gained notable achievements gracing the stages of Lyric Opera Chicago, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Theater Hagen, Goerlitz Opera Theater, Bremen Opera Theater, Music of the Baroque, Chautauqua Festival, Verbier Festival, Brevard, and Des Moines Metro Opera.  Jeffrey’s students have gone on to further their studies at The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Boston University, Mannes School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Longy School of Music, and Berklee College of Music.  They have performed in the Ryan Opera Center Finals and have been chosen as winners in The Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition and the National High School Musical Theatre (JIMMY) Awards. They have been winners of the Kleinman Vocal Competition and the Casa Italia Vocal Competition, among others. They have also performed in the Broadway company of Billy Elliot, National Tours of Cats, Mean Girls, Billy Elliot, and Hadestown, as well as the Chicago Jeff Award-winning musical A Light in the Piazza and Dear John Hughes.   

Jeffrey is in constant demand as a recitalist and clinician. He joined the Schubert Festival in 2017 to high praise. He has been heard on "Live from the Levin Studio" on WFMT and has received accolades for his recital performances in Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, where he received multiple invitations to return.  In addition to singing solo recitals, he is sought after to lead Master Classes.    

Jeffrey has been frequently heard as a soloist in oratorio and orchestral works, including cantatas by Bach, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Fauré’s Requiem, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem as well as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mendelssohns' Saint Paul, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, Dona Nobis Pacem and The Five Mystical Songs, Rossini’s Petit Messe Solenelle, Walton’s Balshazzar’s Feast, Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Copland’s Old American Songs as well as various broadway and operatic Pops concerts. 

An enthusiastic sports fan, Mr. Ray can often be heard singing the National Anthem for our Chicago Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, and Cubs, as well as for his children’s teams. He can also be heard regularly leading the music ministry at his home parish and singing at area churches. Jeffrey lives in Plainfield, IL, with his wife, three children, and their two dogs.

Learn more on the Voice and Opera Studio Page