Obituary: Soprano Margaret Curphey Dies at 86

By Francisco Salazar

Soprano Margaret Curphey has died at the age of 86.

Born in 1938 on the Isle of Man, Curphey studied for many years with local singing teacher Douglas Buxton. After she obtained the Manx Music Festival Cleveland Gold Medal and the Blackpool Rose Bowl, she decided to study at the Birmingham School of Music with John Carol Case and David Galliver.

But her studies at Birmingham were interrupted when she was offered to join English Arts Council’s Opera for All tour in 1963. She accepted and performed to great acclaim. In 1964-65 she joined the Glyndebourne chorus and understudied Montserrat Caballe. After her second season with Glyndebourne, Curphey became a principal artist at Sadlers Wells Opera (which later changed its name to the English National Opera) and made her debut with the company as Michaela in “Carmen.”

With the company, she went on to perform for 13 years and sang such roles as the Countess in “The Marriage of Figaro,” Ellen Orford in “Peter Grimes,” Mimi & Musetta in “La Bohème,” Ninnetta in “The Thieving Magpie,” Violetta in “La Traviata,” Leonora in “Il Trovatore,” and Elizabeth in “Don Carlo,” among others.

In 1970, Cuphey was sponsored by the English National Opera to take part in the International Young Opera Singers competition in Sofia, Bulgaria and was awarded the Bronze medal. That led her to make her debut at the Valencia Opera in Spain.

Around that time she also started to become associated with the work of Wagner. She first sang Eva in “Die Mesitersingers” and later took on the role of Elsa in “Lohengrin.” In the 1970s she sang her first “English Ring Cycle” as Sieglinde in “The Valkyrie,” as well as Gutrune in “Gotterdamerung.”

Curphey eventually added Brunnhilde and sang a complete Ring Cycle in London, before being taking it on in Seattle, Santiago, and Gothenburg.

In 1994 she would retire from the state and move back to her hometown Isle of Man.

Throughout her career, the soprano made numerous recordings including a complete “Ring Cycle” in English and “The Mastersingers”