Obituary: Former Operalia Winner Yali-Marie Williams Dies at 45

By Francisco Salazar

Puerto Rican soprano Yali-Marie Williams has passed away at the age of 45.

In a statement from her husband Arturo said, “Yali would want me to let you know that after 14 months of giving a hell of a fight against pancreatic cancer, even though her spirit was into it, her body couldn’t take it any longer. She spread her angel wings last night, October 22nd, 2021 for the first time. I apologize if we haven’t been able to stay in touch recently. I’m her lucky husband. We shared our lives for 23 years. We have our beautiful children Arturo Jose and Ariana Yali, who I must protect and hold hands with during this transition of our lives. We thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. Yali made quite an imprint in many a heart.”

In 1994, at the age fo 18 the soprano was accepted into the Julliard School of Music and that began her musical career.

Williams came into the spotlight when she won the Operalia competition in 1999 during which she was doing her masters at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadephia.

In 2001, she went on to perform at the Puerto Rican Opera as Desdemona alongside Antonio Barasorda and Justino Díaz in Otello.”  She also participated in concerts for Culturarte, the Festival Casals, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico.

She is recognized for her interpretations of “Madama Butterfly,” “Tosca” “La Traviata,” “Turandot,” and “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Her final performance came in 2018 with Rafael Dávila in a production of “Tosca” in Puerto Rico.

The Operalia competition released a statement noting “We are saddened to hear of Yali-Marie Williams’ passing. A wonderful soprano and loving wife and mother, she won the Third Prize in Operalia 1999. Our sincere condolences go to her family and friends.” The competition dedicated the Oct. 24 final to the soprano.