Orpha Phelan hails from Kilkenny, Ireland. She has directed opera internationally for the past twenty years. She is the recipient of Denmark's prestigious Reumert Award for Best Opera Production 2016 for her production of Powder Her Face at the Royal Danish Opera, where she has also directed Dead Man Walking this season – and will return to next season for the world premiere of Dark Matters.
Orpha has also enjoyed tremendous successes in Sweden at Malmö Opera with La bohème, Les contes d'Hoffmann and Jenůfa, recently released by Arthaus Musik on DVD to rave reviews. She returns to Malmö next season for her first musical, Fiddler on the Roof. This season has also seen her production of Billy Budd for Opera North receive great acclaim. Orpha's 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 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 the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has also 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.