Australia’s First Superstar – Nellie Melba

Day 12 of Colourisation Project – May 19th

Our very own, Dame Nellie Melba was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician.  Born Helen Porter Mitchell this day in 1861 in Richmond, Victoria, she adopted the stage name Melba after her beloved home town, Melbourne.

In 1881 she left for London to further her operatic career as a soprano. She soon became a superstar in every sense of the word. She moved in high circles in Europe performing at Covent Garden, La Scala, Milan; she performed before the Tsar of Russia,  the Emperor of Germany, the Emperor of Austria, the King of Sweden, the King of England and the President of France. She even had an affair with the Duke of Orleans, pretender to the French throne.

In 1918 she was made a Dame of the British Empire. She was still singing in 1926 at the age of 65. She had a farewell tour that lasted four years, which gave origin to the phrase, “More farewells than Dame Nellie.”

In 1927, she became the first Australian to appear on the cover of Time Magazine and her image has featured on the $100 Australian polymer note since it was first issued in 1996.

When Melba died in 1931, her funeral was a state affair with royal representatives, politicians, and people of high society lining the streets of Melbourne.

Oh and she’s even had a dessert named after her, Peach Melba….. There is so much more to this Aussie legend but you will just have to google her, I’ve got colouring in to do!

Nellie Melba  Photographer unknown. Source National Portrait Gallery.

“There are two things I like stiff and one of them’s jelly.”  Nellie Melba

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2 Responses to Australia’s First Superstar – Nellie Melba

  1. Pingback: Enrico Caruso – the King of Tenors | Random Phoughts

  2. Pingback: Harold Cazneaux – Father of Modern Australian Photography | Random Phoughts

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