Based in London, Orpha Phelan hails from Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Her production of A Quiet Place was awarded the prestigious Place de l'Opera prize of Best Opera 2018 in The Netherlands. 

She is two years running the recipient of Denmark's most prestigious arts prize, the Reumert Award, for Best Opera Production 2016 for Powder Her Face at the Royal Danish Opera and Best Opera Production 2017 for Dead Man Walking, also for The Royal Danish Opera. 


Orpha has just directed the world premiere of  Blue Electric by Tom Smail. Last season she staged her first production for Irish National Opera, La Cenerentola (nominated for Best Production in The Irish Times Theatre Awards) as well as Dialogues des Carmelites for the RNCM. 

Recent seasons saw her direct a highly acclaimed production of 

Billy Budd for Opera North and Fidelio for Longborough Festival Opera as well as making her French debut at Opéra National de Lorraine with Wuthering Heights.


Upcoming seasons include her Norwegian and German debuts, as well as a return to Irish National Opera for a new production of La Bohème. She will also direct the world premiere of Raising Icarus by Michael Zev Gordon.  

Orpha has enjoyed tremendous successes in Sweden at Malmö Opera with Fiddler on the Roof, La Bohème (released by Naxos on DVD) Les Contes d'Hoffman and Jenůfa (released by Arthaus Musik on DVD). Her production of Così Fan Tutte with Opera Theatre Company in 2012/13 marked her first production in her native Ireland. Orpha has also directed l’Orfeo at The Barbican, a collaboration with Richard Egarr and The Academy of Ancient Music. Her staging of the UK premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream, also at The Barbican, marked her first collaboration with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has directed I Capuleti e i Montecchi for Opera North and Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, under the baton of Richard Bonynge.


Orpha has worked on several productions at The Royal Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North and Wexford Opera and has directed workshops for Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Aldeburgh and Almeida Opera. She was awarded the Audience Prize (Ring Award 2005), for her concept of Le Nozze di Figaro with Graz Oper, Austria and Wagner Forum Graz; she was also a winner in the European Opera Directors’ Award 2003 for her concept of Hans Heiling for Strasbourg Opera in association with Opera Europa. She lives in London with her husband and their two sons.