Obituary: Mezzo-Soprano Clara O’Brien Dies at 62

By Francisco Salazar

Mezzo-soprano Clara O’Brien has died at the age of 62.

In an obituary obtained by Slipped Disc, her husband Lance Hulme said, she died shortly before midnight on December 18, 2023.

Born on Dec. 8, 1961, in Sharon, PA, the mezzo graduated Magnum Cum Laude from the Dana School of Music in Youngstown, OH, and went on to receive a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. She would then complete her training at the Curtis School of Music.

Following her studies, she won a Fulbright Grant that took her to Europe where she was engaged by the State Theater of Baden with which she remained a soloist for many years. That led her to perform in Chicago, Dallas, Berlin, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Dresden, Leipzig and Frankfurt, where she was a regular. She was also well-known for her appearances at the International Händel Festspiel.

She went on to perform such roles as Octavian, Komponist, Adalgisa, Mignon, Dorabella, Donna Elvira, Elisabetta (Maria Stuarda), Rosina, Cenerentola, Musetta, Hélène (La Belle Hélène), Fenena (Nabucco). Among her concert repertoire were the works of Verdi, Mozart, Berlioz, Mahler, Brahms, and Beethoven.

O’Brien also recorded numerous albums for Bella Musica, Metiér, Albaze, Arizona University, and Albany Records labels.

In 2003, she returned to the United States to teach and was named  Professor of Voice at the University of North Carolina.

Throughout her career, she won many awards including the Grand Prix Paul Derenne, and International Concours de chant de Paris.