Obituary: Belarusian Soprano and Educator Irina Siegal Dies, Aged 51

By Logan Martell

Belarusian soprano Irina Siegal passed away on May 27, 2020 from a rare form of cancer.

Born on May 31, 1968, in Miory, Siegal was educated in a Soviet Board School. She went on to the Moscow Conservatory and won a full scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York City, before transferring to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She subsequently toured the country with the Merola Opera Program, performing in several fully-staged operas.

In 1997, she married architect Aryeh Siegal, and gave birth to their daughter Leah two years later, just a few days after they moved to Beacon, New York. In Beacon, Siegal taught in local schools and gave private lessons in piano and voice. A proponent of Russian church music, she served as choir conductor of the Russian Orthodox Church in New York City, and as a chief soloist; she was known for singing Easter hymns that delighted members of the community.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2014, Siegal lost her ability to sing due to surgery two years later. She channeled her creativity into clothing design with Cloth Factor, a retail sewing studio she operated next door from her residence.

According to her husband: “Irina never liked to see herself in a ‘battle;’ she viewed her rare cancer more as a sly opponent to outwit.”