School of Music > Faculty & Staff > Faculty A-Z > Sam Handley

Sam Handley

  • On leave for 2023-2024 academic year.
  • ​​​

  • Voice and Opera

BM University of Wisconsin at Steven's Point
MM University of Wisconsin-Madison
DMA University of Houston


Sam Handley 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.”

Recent opera credits include Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore (winter 2019/20 with 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. Additional career highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, 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. He joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera in 2017 for Der Rosenkavalier

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.  

Dr. Handley has long loved sharing his knowledge of the art of singing and was a Teaching Fellow during both his Master and Doctoral studies. He has taught at UW-Platteville, Lee College, San Jacinto College, North Park University, and Madison Summer Music Clinic and is in demand as a Master Teacher, Clinician and Adjudicator. Sam currently serves on the faculty of DePaul University in Chicago as well as Musica nelle Marche in Urbino, Italy, and the Vann Vocal Institute in Montgomery, Alabama. He is Co-Director of Membership on the board of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Executive and Artistic Director of the Green Lake Festival of Music.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Sam now resides in Sheboygan, WI, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, especially while camping, hiking, sailing, cooking, and fine dining!

Learn more on the Voice and Opera Studio page