American baritone Samuel James Dewese is rapidly making a name for himself as an evocative artist in the United States and beyond.
In the 2022–2023 season, Samuel continues to champion new music. He returns to Chicago Fringe Opera as baritone soloist in an evening of staged art song called Chicago Currents following his company and role as The Man in world premiere concert performances of La Jetée/Boustead. He also debuts with Thompson Street Opera Company in their double bill as I in The Kamikaze Mind/Murphy (US staged premiere) and Dish in Would You Eat Me?/Brown (world premiere). Further developing his love for art song, Samuel also joins LYNX Project as an artist-in-residence for the 2022–23 season. This work affords Samuel the chance to perform new works featuring the poetry and prose of autistic individuals who are primarily nonspeaking set to music.
In the abbreviated 2019-2020 season, Samuel was a Baumgartner Studio Artist at Florentine Opera in Milwaukee, US. Appearances for Florentine included Sam in Trouble in Tahiti/Bernstein, Antonio (cover Conte) in Le nozze di Figaro/Mozart, and Doctor in Macbeth/Verdi (cancelled due to COVID-19). Prior to joining Florentine, Samuel made his Scottish stage debut at the Edinburgh International Fringe as Lady Macbeth in August 2019 in the sellout world premiere of The Perfect Opera/Davis. He also made his Scottish recital debut during the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, presented alongside soprano Katy Thomson at St. Andrew’s and St. George’s West showcasing the program “Songs of Innocence and Experience” with renowned pianist Ingrid Sawers. Further operatic roles include Samuel’s Chicago debut as Marcello in La Bohème/Puccini with Windy City Opera and Peter, the Father in Hansel & Gretel/Humperdinck with New Moon Opera. Orchestral engagements have seen Samuel as a soloist alongside the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra for Fidelio/Beethoven, Bach’s Mass in G Major in Portsmouth Cathedral with Portsmouth Festival Orchestra, and in Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Highgate Choral Society.
Samuel is the proud recipient of the Joann Damman Memorial Scholarship from the Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago and a beneficiary of the Golden Lyre Foundation Award from the Illinois Federation of Music Clubs. Additionally, he is a two-time St. Louis District winner in the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition and took 2nd place in the 2015 James Toland Vocal Arts International Singing Competition in Oakland, California. In 2017 Samuel was a grand finalist in the Hariclea Darclée International Singing Competition in Braila, Romania, and he sang in the semifinal rounds of the 55th Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest in Barcelona in 2018. Samuel won Second Prize in the 2021 Music International Grand Prix.
Samuel completed his Bachelor of Music studies in voice at the University of Illinois and earned a Master of Performance degree with Distinction from the Royal College of Music, London under the guidance of Graeme Broadbent and Gary Matthewman. He was generously supported at the College by a Vivian Prins Award. Performances at the RCM include the title role in Eugene Onegin/Tchaikovsky, Guglielmo/Così fan tutte, Il Conte/Le nozze di Figaro, Amida/L'Ormindo, while recent concert highlights include Copland's Old American Songs, the European premiere of Eric Malmquist's Chicago Songs, and an exploration of romances written by F. P. Tosti during the composer’s time in London.
A gifted and committed recitalist, during COVID-19 Samuel nurtured his love for art song by curating a series of outdoor concerts performed at a safe distance. This work continues with new concert programs highlighting the work of Black composers, women, composers of the LGBTQIA+ community, and others whose work has been kept from the established canon. Samuel’s concert performances continue to receive support from the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin and the Salt Creek American Art Foundation.