Internationally acclaimed tenor William Lewis was educated at the University of Colorado, Texas Christian University and New York University; and became a professor of voice and opera at Penn State University and State University of New York at Binghamton. He is currently the holder of the prestigious Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professorship in Opera at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the director of the Studio Ensemble of the Butler Opera Center, and the President of the William Lewis School of Opera (formerly Franco American Vocal Academy) in Austria and France. In 2011 he was knighted by the Republic of France as Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Lewis enjoys a distinguished reputation as a tenor whose versatility spans the operatic repertoire from Mozart to Schönberg, having performed one hundred forty major roles in ten languages. At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, during a tenure of thirty-five years, he was heard as: Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Pinkerton, Macduff, Arrigo, Alfredo, Gabriele Adorno, Turiddu, Hoffmann, Don Jose, Romeo, Aeneas, Dimitri, Ghermann, Stewa, Idomeneo, Alwa, Der Tambourmajor, Oedipus Rex and the dual role of Steuermann/Erik in Der Fliegende Hollander.
He made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1975 as Steuermann/Erik and appeared there in subsequent seasons as: Stewa in Jenufa, Albert Gregor in the Makropoulos Affair, Boris in Katya Kabanova, Frank Sargent in the World Premier of Angle of Repose, Le Cid, Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtzensk, Golitsin in Khovantschina, Eumete in Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and Loge in Das Rheingold.
In Europe the renowned tenor has received critical praise at: Teatro alla Scala (Milano), Teatro Comunale (Firenze), Teatro La Fenice (Venezia), Teatro Regia (Torino), Théatre National de Paris, Opéra de Lyon, Capitole de Toulouse, Royal Opera Covent Garden (London) , Vienna Staatsoper, Hamburg Staatsoper, Sao Carlo Opera (Lisbon), Köln Oper, as well as the festivals at: Salzburg, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Festival dei due Mondi (Spoleto), Spoleto USA (Charleston,S.C.), Wexford, Ireland, Amsterdam and Santa Fe,
His performed Richard Strauss repertoire is outstanding: Matteo in Arabella, Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Midas and King Pollux in Die Liebe der Danae, Apollo in Daphne, Der Baron in Intermezzo, the title role of Guntram; and he has received rave reviews as King Herodes in Salome at the Teatro Carlo Felice (Genoa), Teatro Nuovo (Spoleto), Baltimore Opera, Denver Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Nashville Opera. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as the young Syrian Narraboth in Salome in 1958.
In concert and song recital, the tenor toured throughout the United States and Canada under the aegis of Columbia Artists, National Concert Artists and Sardos Artists of New York City. In Europe he was heard in concert at: Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall (London), the Concertgebow (Amsterdam), Musiksalle (Berlin), Mozartsalle (Vienna), Tonhalle (Munich), Edmundsbergsalle (Salzburg)