Obituary: Canadian Soprano Irene Salemka McGillivray Dies At 86

By Francisco Salazar

Renowned soprano Irene Salemka McGillivray has passed away at 86.

The Canadian soprano died earlier on Sunday, August 27, 2017, in her home in Collingwood, Ontario.

According to baritone Peter McGillivray, his aunt had been battling illness and dementia for many years.

Born in small-town Manitoba, Salemka spent her formative years in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and Regina before becoming an international opera singer.

She went on to become one of the premiere Canadian singers in Europe’s major opera houses. Her early successes started at the Canadian Opera Company and Vancouver Opera before making major debuts in Europe. She performed at Stuttgart, Vienna, London, Naples, Milan, Paris, and Basel. From 1956 to 1967 she became the lead soprano at the Frankfurt State Opera.

Her signature roles included Mimi, Cio-Cio San, The Merry Widow, and Donna Elvira among other roles.

While today Salemka is neglected, she left numerous recordings for Deutsche Grammophon particularly one of “Don Giovanni” with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. However, most of the recordings exist at the German National Library.