Obituary: Marlena Malas Dies at 87

By Afton Wooten

American mezzo-soprano and teacher Marlena Malas passed away on Dec. 4 at the age of 87.

Malas began her musical studies at the Juilliard School’s Preparatory Division from 1951 to 1953 and later graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. She then sang with opera companies including Santa Fe, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Diego, and Milwaukee, and made appearances with the Marlboro and Casals Festivals as well as concert appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. She is featured on a definitive recording of Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes under the direction of Rudolf Serkin and Leon Fleisher.

She taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Hartt School of Music, and at Juilliard. She was the chairman of the voice department of the Chautauqua Institute, she served as a vocal consultant and teacher for the Canadian Opera Company, the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, the English National Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, the Castleton Festival, the Chicago Lyric Opera Young Artist Program. Malas conducted masterclasses at the Blossom Music Festival, the San Francisco Opera Center, the Santa Fe Opera, the European Center for Opera and Vocal Studies in Brussels, the Israel Vocal Studies Center, the English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Westminster Choir College, and Rutgers University. Most notably, in 1993, she taught master classes in collaboration with her mentors Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, and Luigi Alva in association with the Sydney Opera House, at their first Opera Symposium. She has also served as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

Malas and her late husband bass Spiro Malas spent their life together in Manhattan and had two sons, Alexis and Nicol. They have five grandchildren: Sascha, Reed, Grant, Max, and Flynn.