Ballam fondly remembers famous soprano Marni Nixon

Michael Ballam says he has lost a dear friend and the world has lost a marvelous musician with very special talents in the death of Marni Nixon. Ballam, who is founder and general director of Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, learned of Nixon’s death over the weekend.

He has known the famous soprano for approximately 40 years having met her when they studied music together and lived as neighbors in New York.

Ballam says Marni Nixon has been to Cache Valley numerous times.

“We did a tribute to her a few years ago with the orchestra where she chronicled her career being the voice of Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, and Marilyn Monroe,” Ballam recalls. “She also came here to do a master class with the students at Utah State University, which was lovely.

“Wonderful actress, incredible singer, very versatile and she had this skill of being able to match the voices of actresses on screen. Each one of her dubbings on Hollywood films are uniquely different.”

Nixon was 86 at the time of her death but Ballam says she tenacious and was still doing wonderful work. He said she battled a great deal of illness, including cancers. Her husband, to whom she was very close, died several months ago.

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