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

Sam Handley

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

After a brief stint in mathematics at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee-born Sam Handley switched careers to pursue singing opera, concert, and recital. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a Master of Music from UW-Madison and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Houston.

On both the operatic and concert stage, Sam has earned praise for his "rich, burnished” voice and the “genuine emotional depth of his characterizations."

During the 2017/2018, Sam joined the Dallas Opera for Eric Korngold’s Der Ring des Polykrates and the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a new, well-received opera called Fellow Travelers. In June, he traveled to Beijing to sing the role of Konrad Nachtigall in Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a role he also performed at the San Francisco Opera in 2015.

Additionally, Sam performed in Verdi's Requiem (Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra), Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado (Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra), Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem (UW-Milwaukee orchestra and chorus), and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Symphony New Hampshire).

From 2015 to 2017, Sam sang Alberich in The Essential Ring, Jonathan McPhee’s new distillation of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, with the Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire. He joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera for Der Rosenkavalier in 2017.

After appearing in Puccini’s Il trittico at the Castleton Festival in Virginia, Sam was invited back to sing Colline in La bohème, conducted by Lorin Maazel, with whom Sam made his Asian debut singing Basilio in il barbiere di Siviglia at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing. He made his European debut as Escamillo with Theatre Aachen.

Sam’s operatic training includes apprentice programs of Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center, where he performed more than a dozen roles, including Quince in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tom in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera.

On the symphonic stage, Sam's repertoire includes masterworks by Handel, Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, and Vaughan Williams. He has been a guest artist with the Houston Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival with James Conlon.

A fervent proponent of contemporary composers, Sam has sung in a number of world premieres, including Wlad Marhulet’s The Property with Lyric Unlimited, a community engagement, artistic and educational initiative of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Sam's recordings include Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming on Newport Classic and a DVD of his collaboration with Peter Schickele for P. D. Q. Bach called Houston: We Have a Problem!

Sam 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, and Madison Summer Music Clinic and is in demand as a Master Teacher, Clinician and Adjudicator. Sam currently serves on the faculties of North Park University and DePaul University, both in Chicago. He is a member of the Associate Board of Directors of Green Lake Festival of Music.

When not teaching or traveling for performances, Sam lives in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter sailing, hiking, camping, cooking and fine dining.

Learn more on the Voice and Opera Studio page