irenesalemkaIrene Salemka was inducted into the Weyburn Walk of Fame in 2009, after a successful opera career that spanned two continents, and three decades. (University of Regina Archives and Special Collections 84-11-395)

 

Weyburn is mourning the passing of Walk of Fame member Irene Salemka.

Salemka, whose talents as an opera singer took her from Weyburn to Europe, passed away on the weekend in Collingwood, Ontario. She was 85.

Salemka, who was born in Steinbach, Manitoba, in 1931, was raised in Weyburn after her family moved here when she was 11. She started out singing to entertain the neighborhood kids, and eventually had the chance to sing on what was the equivalent of Canadian Idol at the time, CBC’s Opportunity Knocks, and Singing Stars of Tomorrow.

She made her debut with the Canadian Opera Company in 1953 in Madame Butterfly and went on to be the leading soprano with the Frankfurt State Opera in Germany in 1956. She also appeared in a number of German films before later returning to Canada.

In 1977, she married James McGillivray, also from Weyburn, in Toronto. The two had attended school together in Weyburn, and after she had gone on to her career in opera, the two met again in 1973.

Salemka was inducted into the Weyburn Walk of Fame in 2009.

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