She was born in Manhattan in 1908 as Natalia Bodanskaya (she later shortened her name to avoid confusion with the conductor Artur Bodanzky) and grew up in a tenement on the Upper East Side.
An employee of the neighborhood music school noticed her singing and arranged an audition with the famous soprano Marcella Sembrich, who was impressed enough to encourage Bodanya to apply to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.
After graduation Bodanya landed the role of Micaëla in Carmen at the Met, making her debut in the spring season of 1936. She sang at the house for the next five years, as Micaëla, as Musetta in Puccini's La Bohme, and in smaller roles such as Yniold in Debussy's Pell_as et M_lisande and the page in Wagner's Parsifal.
The Times writes that her most notorious moment at the Met came during the company's first performance of Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto in 1937: she lost her pantaloons onstage and won an ovation for continuing with her aria while kicking them off into the wings.
In 1938, according to the paper, she canceled engagements in Venice and Milan in protest at the Italian government's anti-Semitic measures. That same year, she married William Gorman, a philosophy professor and took a hiatus from performing to raise her son.
In 1944 she returned to the stage and sang Musetta and other roles at New York City Opera; she also appeared in nightclubs and on radio and recorded duets with Mario Lanza.
After her retirement from the stage she worked as a voice teacher in California.