American baritone Samuel James Dewese is rapidly making a name for himself as an evocative artist in the United States and beyond.
In the 2023–24 season, Samuel debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Male Narrator/Orpheus in Jason and the Argonauts by Gregory Spears, and continues his season with Lyric in Champion/Blanchard. Additional recent performances include company and role debuts with Chicago Fringe Opera as The Man in world premiere concert performances of La Jetée/Boustead in November 2022. Samuel also debuted with Thompson Street Opera Company in their 2022 double bill, portraying I in The Kamikaze Mind/Murphy (US premiere) and Dish in Would You Eat Me?/Brown (world premiere). Further developing his love for art song, Samuel also joined LYNX Project as a resident artist for the 2022–23 season. This work afforded him the chance to perform new works featuring the poetry and prose of autistic individuals who are primarily nonspeaking set to music as part of the Amplify Series.
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 showcasing the program “Songs of Innocence and Experience” with renowned pianist Ingrid Sawers. Additional operatic roles include Marcello in La Bohème/Puccini with Windy City Opera, Father in Hansel & Gretel/Humperdinck, and Argyle in La Trout Lily/Scherer, both 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 (UK) with Portsmouth Festival Orchestra, and in Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Highgate Choral Society.
A standout on the competition stage, Samuel has been awarded prizes by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, James Toland Vocal Arts, the Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago, the Golden Lyre Foundation, and the Illinois Federation of Music Clubs. Samuel was a grand finalist in the Hariclea Darclée International Singing Competition (Romania), and sang in the semifinal rounds of the 55th Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest in Barcelona before winning Second Prize in the 2021 Music International Grand Prix.
Samuel received a Bachelor of Music degree 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. Opera highlights 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 concert highlights included 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.