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I am surprised to find such a Niska fan out in this world.
I was prinical bassoonist of the Met. Opera National Company in 1965-67. I had
many nights to enjoy her remarkable singing. You have so much information about her that I'm sure you would want to know this from someone who would know. This picture of Butterfly is from the Met. Natl Co production from 1965-66. The Suzuki is not Ellen Berse who was with the company and did perform the role. However this picture is of another amazing singer in the company, Marilyn Zschau. She went on to a career that perhaps was as or more important than Ms. Niska's


Thank you for the information and indeed I looked closely at the photo and it is Zschau.

I had received this photo from the Met National Company many years ago and the information on the back is incorrect.

Thank you for pointing this out to me. I have changed the caption in the blog entry accordingly.


Thanks for this. I'm a huge fan of hers. I was blown away by Marilin Niska's Makropolis Affair in the 70s, although as a 13 year old, or so, I was rather embarrassed about those silly projections in the background. But what really blew me away was her Susannah, with Norman Treigle. I won't bore you with reminiscences, you had to be there. But hey, if you do talk to her, tell her she has devoted fans all over the world.


Unfortunately, SUSANNAH was one of the Niska performances I happened to miss...I can't remember why. I also missed her Donna Anna and VOIX HUMAINE.

Margaret, if you will e-mail me at [email protected]
I have some press photos of Maralin as Susannah that I can try to scan and send to you.

Jerry Manning

My 4th grade teacher at Riviera Elementary School in Torrance, California was named Marilyn Niska. She was a wonderful teacher. This would have been in 1957. I was told that she went on to become an opera singer. Do you know if Marilin Niska the singer was a school teacher in California before moving to New York?


It seems to me that it is most likely that your 4th grade teacher and Maralin Niska are one and the same person. Maralin was born in San Pedro, educated at UCLA. Her singing career really took off in the early 60s but she would have needed to support herself in the late 50s while waiting for things to happen for her operatically.

Do you by any chance have a photo of your 4th grade teacher? Or do you remember if she looked like the woman in the photos on this blog entry?

I think I'll drop her a note and see if I can get any information.

Thomas W. Olsen

I was an apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera in the late '60s. Maralin opened the season as Butterfly and also sang Violetta that season. She was magnificent! When we would gather backstage for the chorus in the last act of Traviata the choral director made us keep absolute silence during the "Addio del passato" stating that Maralin sang this aria better than anyne else in the world. I agreed. I also saw her as Tosca and in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld with the Boston Opera in the mid '70s and she was, again wonderful in both. How lovely to happen upon this site and discover others who thought she was wonderful, as well.


Hi Thomas, it must have been great to be onstage with Maralin in those performances.

This Saturday (January 19, 2008) there will be a radio broadcast of a 1977 BOHEME from the Met Archives with Maralin as Musetta and also starring Renata Scotto and Luciano Pavarotti. Check local station listings in your area.

This story about Maralin Niska has been one of the most-read items on my blog.

George Lomnycky

Thank you for the wonderful memories of Maralin Niska. I saw most of it...Mak affair, medea, Salome (I had to practically carry my voice teacher out of the State Theater), pag, trav...how could she perform so fantastically such totally diverse roles? She will always remain a part of what ultimately formed my own character. How lucky I was to have seen and heard her.


Thanks for the recollections, George...it's nice to read about the effect Maralin's performances had on people.

Bill Doty

I was Googling Maralin Niska's name and found this site. I can answer Phillip's question about 1957, Riviera Elementary School - Torrance, CA. Yes, Maralin Niska (a friend of our neighbor the late Shirley Sawers across the street) was an opera singer who became big. We lived just down the street from Riviera School and my brother and sister attended there. Niska was married to a fireman when she "hit." I recently met mezzo soprano Joyce Maliky Castle who knew of Niska's career. Says she may live in Alburquerque (don't know).


Thanks for the info, Bill. Joyce Castle (who I've met in the past - a great lady!) is correct that Maralin now lives in New Mexico...Santa Fe, actually.

Richard Fleischman

It's gratifying to see all of these wonderful comments about Maralin Niska. Maralin and her husband Bill have been dear friends for almost 20 years. I grew up in New York City and attended so many of her performances in the late 70s and her Musetta on the Live from the Met Telecast is part of opera legend. Maralin and Bill have lived in Santa Fe since the early 80s, where she teaches privately.


It has been very gratifying for me, as a long-time admirer of Maralin Niska, to see all the interest this story about her has generated. It remains the most-read item on my blog.

Warren Hayner

Maralyn Niska was an elementary school teacher Riviera Torrance CA in mid to late 50s. Also lived in San Pedro CA ever more striving to bring wonderful culture to that city. I was privileged to hear her sing a collection of Rogers & Hammerstein pieces at the Hollywood Bowl in the mid 60s.


It's interesting to read about the many lives Maralin touched both as a teacher and a singer.


Finally a site that remembers one of our greatest singing actresses! Thank-you soooo much.
Your reminiscences were a joy to read and brought back so many wonderful memories.

I have seen many many Tosca's (which include the incredible Magda Olivero) but have not seen any that rival Niska's. (loved the Vissi D'Arte starting face down on the floor..)
Won't mention any more as you have done such a wonderful job relating the effect she had on her audiences.

But I do have to mention one thing that was truly a milestone for me.. I absolutely loathed Janacek.. then it was announced that Marilin would be doing a new production of Makropolis. Not expecting to enjoy it but curious to see Niska in the role, I went. Needless to say I was completely blown away.. and loved every second of it.. (I also thought the production with the use of the screens was brilliant)..
BTW.. Why haven't you posted the wonderful picture of her in Makropolis.
It is a lovely picture and I am certain it would be appreciated here.

Again Thank-you so much for this site.. And for letting Marilin know how much she meant to so many of us..


Hi Trisa,

This story about Maralin Niska gets more readers than any other story on my blog. It's great to hear from so many people who recognized her tremendous vocal and acting talent.

One of my favorite Niska moments was in the first Tosca I ever saw her do; at the end of the "Vissi d'arte" she received a huge ovation and she just laid there on the floor and never moved a muscle, letting the applause wash over her.

Garry Sloan

I was a student of Ms. Niska for one year at the University of Missouri. She came to the faculty as a visiting professor after the departure of Constanza Cuccaro, now at Indiana. She told me of her days as an elementary school teacher. I have not spoken with her in many years, and was wondering where she might be. If anyone knows how to get in touch with her, please advise.


Garry, I sent you an e-mail with Maralin's address...


Thank you for bringing back so many memories of my early opera-going days. I will always remember my first "Fanciulla del West"at NYCO with Ms. Niska. When Rance went to attack her in the second act, she didn't do the traditional and pull a gun - she smashed a bottle on the mantle and held him off with it. Talk about making the audience jump! In the last act she entered on horseback and her mount tried to throw her - she not only held on but continued to sing flawlessly. No "Fanciulla" has ever been better!!
She was also my first Nedda (opposite Caballe's husband)and Donna Anna.
Brava, Maralin, and thank you!!


Yes, that broken bottle was a very powerful moment. Maralin was always adding these little strokes of drama to her portrayals, like slamming the knife into the floor after killing Scarpia in Act II of TOSCA. She had such a wonderful flair for the theatrical gesture...and she always made it work.


I have been desperately searching for any information about her! She was my judge once and gave me her card but it was recently stolen (along with my wallet). Does anyone know how to get in touch with her? Last I heard she taught voice lessons in Santa Fe (where I met her). Please help! spazzzzz_me @ yahoo. com



I have sent you an e-mail with Maralin's current address.

Larry Ketron

As a young college student being introduced to Maralin was a lifetime highlight. I shall never forget the late night breakfast of scrambled eggs she prepared for me and my friends. 45 years later, I still remember well her Musetta and her down to earth attitude. I'm glad I ran across this blog. Give her my best.

Kenton Floyd Immerfall

What a wonderful site for my first cousin, once removed. I had never met this "famous" first cousin to my Mother until six days ago. Maralin and Bill just happened to be in Palm Springs, CA, visiting a dear friend before Maralin and Bill were traveling to San Pedro so Maralin could attend her Class Reunion. I just happened to be attending the West Coast Party of the 517th PRCT that the uncle I am named after (Floyd A. Stott) was a member with in WW II. Maralin knew my uncle very well as he stayed with Maralin and her family right before he entered the army elite paratrooper outfit. I was invited to their friend's (David) home where I was overwhelmed with stories from the past. The evening continued with dinner at Vicky's in Indian Wells and then we all sat and listened to Doug Montgomery mesmerize his audience with his unique piano qualities and voice. Maralin and Bill have known Doug for over 20 years. I am the family genealogy nut so it was important to me to obtain information about the lives of my grandpa's sister (Vera-Maralin's Mom) as well as Maralin's Father (William Dice) and of course The Opera Singer in our STOTT family tree. Thanks to your site, I am learning more all the time.

Tom Spitznas

I believe I saw Maralin Niska in a NYCO production of Suor Angelica in the late 1960’s, perhaps 1968. Her performance overwhelmed me in a work I was unfamiliar with. When the curtain fell and she took her bow, instead of leaving the pit, many of the orchestra members turned to face the stage to pay her special homage. This gesture, which confirmed my own reaction, is something I never saw before or after.

The problem is I can find no reference to Miss Niska having sung the role at City Opera. None of the comments in this blog mention it and her own Web site is silent on the matter. I also failed to find a NY Times review of the performance. Can anyone out there confirm my belief that I saw her and that she gave a dynamite performance?

I also believe that I saw her in Louise, but am less certain about this. Serves me right for not saving my playbills.


Maralin definitely sang SUOR ANGELICA with NYCO, I even had a tape of it for a while but it finally disintegrated!

She also sang a great Giulietta in TALES OF HOFFMANN with NYCO in Los Angeles...my tape of that also wore out.

I do not recall her singing Louise...I think Carol Neblett sang that role in a revival in the early 1970s.


I fell for Maralin Niska in a Met Tosca with Sandor Konya and Peter Glossop, then traveled back and forth across the Plaza with her for Salome, Vespri, Boheme, Traviata, and that unforgettable Composier in Ariadne. She was one in a million in terms of audience connection and making every moment count. Very happy others remember her the same way. An electric talent.


Maralin was wonderful in those Met TOSCAs...she also sang the role at NYCO and I remember she received a very long ovation after 'Vissi d'arte' and she never moved a muscle til the applause died down.

Paul Henrickson

I knew Maralin a a teacher when I lived in Santa Fe and while I had no practical ambitions relative to a career I learned so much from her regarding how the body and the mind functioned in the production of a voice that after a five year traumatic hiatis it returned much to the astonishment of other singers present.


That's a great story about Maralin's role as a teacher. Thank you, Paul.

David Whiteside

I studied with Maralin in Santa Fe in the early 80's - - she truly was the Rita Hayworth of the opera world. One day she demonstrated operatic support by sitting down on the couch with me, as casual as can be, and emitting an endless high A. The large room rang with this huge, beautiful sound, deafening almost - but even though she was sitting about 18 inches from me I could not tell where the sound was coming from. The room was simply, evenly full of her lush voice. She was a unique, selfless personality, and did whatever she could for her students. I recall she introduced me to Leontyne Price, James McCracken, and thrilled all of her students with stories about working with Pavarotti and others. After 4 years in her studio I made it to the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program and had an incredible experience, for which I will always be grateful to her. Oddly enough I settled in San Pedro many years later (never had the opera career unfortunately)but by that time had forgotten it was her stomping ground. I've been out of touch with her since the 80's but please convey my sincerest best wishes.


Thanks for the great Niska story, David. She had an amazing technique, quite unlike any other singer I have ever heard.

David Whiteside

Phillip, is Maralin still in good health? Do you know if she is still in the public eye in Santa Fe or elsewhere?


I recently received a Christmas card from Maralin and her husband; as far as I know she's still teaching voice in Santa Fe.

Brian Morgan

Please write a Wikipedia article on Miss Niska!


A very good idea!

David Colton

I heard Marilin Niska in concert here in St.John's, Newfoundland during the 1971-1972 concert season. Her pianist at the time was MArtin Karz. It was a wonderful evening of Torelli, Bononconi, Rodrigo, Liszt etc. I still have the programme of that concert.

Peter Devine

I would love to get in touch with Mme Niska - I saw her in Song of Norway in San Francisco in 1962, then again with the SF Symphony and corresponded with her for a while in the early 1960s. Please send me her email address so I can contact her again.

Muriel Kenderdine

Wow! I googled Maralin just on impulse and although I knew she had gone on to sing at the Met, I didn't know all this about her career, especially the number of roles at NYCO. Back in the late 50's we sang in The Magic Flute together at the LA Conservatory performances in the Pilgrimage Little Theater. She was Pamina, of course, and I was the First Lady or maybe First Spirit (did both at different times. Brava indeed, Maralin, and all comments from others above well deserved!

Paula Malone

I too studied with Maralin at the University of Missouri. My name now is Paula Malone; at that time it was Paula Bailey. She gave me the confidence to become the singer/musician I am today. She really believed in me and that meant so much! I would LOVE to visit with her and catch up. Could you send me her email address too? (Hi Garry!)

Larry Ketron

In 1966-67, I was a college student and was introduced to Maralin by the two gay gentlemen who rented me a room. With the two guys, we traveled to NY and saw Maralin and visited after the performance. 66 years later I still remember the scramble eggs she served us. I also remember her reprimanding a certain tenor not to be smoking. In Richmond and Newport News, I again met her. Time moved quickly and I lost contact with her and her career. Even though I lost touch, I will always remember that great voice and smile. This college guy of old still loves "Niska." Thanks for the post. Larry remembers well Maralin, Jim, Will and Bob.
Does Maralin keep in contact with anyone?

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