Obituary: Miriam Murphy Dies at 48

By Francisco Salazar

Miriam Murphy has died at the age of 48.

Born in Ireland, Murphy established herself as one of the country’s most acclaimed dramatic sopranos. Having studied under Veronica Dunne in Dublin, Murphy took first prize at the inaugural Seattle International Wagner Competition and subsequently performed in the Seattle Opera’s acclaimed Ring cycle.

She would go on to make her Royal Opera House debut as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s “Macbeth” and would perform at the Opéra national de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Seattle Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, ABAO Bilbao Opera, and Opéra de Lille.

Murphy made history in 2012 when she sang Isolde in the first Irish performance in 62 years of Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” for Wide Open Opera in Dublin. She also performed regularly with the Welsh National Opera and the Irish National Opera.

In a statement by Irish National Opera Artistic Director, Fergus Sheil said,  “I’ve known Miriam since we were both teenagers. Over the years we had many musical and operatic adventures together. Her voice was quite simply a phenomenon. It kept giving and giving with seemingly endless reserves of power, strength, musicality and finesse. Miriam had the unique capability of totally captivating an audience as if she owned everybody in the hall. You would not hear a pin drop when she sang. Her ability to cast a spell and command attention was unparalleled. I’ve been on the podium for many of these occasions and could feel the electricity in the air.”

He added, “On the establishment of Irish National Opera I was so pleased that she sang in our inaugural Big Bang Concert in 2018. She also performed brilliantly as the Mother in our 2020 production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel which toured Ireland. Yet in my mind we were only still beginning in terms of what Miriam could and should do. It’s hard to believe that we will not hear Miriam’s magnificent voice soaring above a symphony orchestra once again. Her unique ability to cast a spell on an audience is gone with her. It’s heart-breaking to realize that we won’t hear that laugh anymore or enjoy the company of a true friend. It’s absolutely right to say that we won’t see the likes of her again.”

Here is Murphy performing Isolde in the Historic Dublin performance.