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Dame Nellie Melba

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Nellie Melba, engraving, 1894
[Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]

Dame Nellie Melba, original name Helen Armstrong, née Helen Mitchell   (born May 19, 1861, Richmond, near Melbourne, Austl.—died Feb. 23, 1931, Sydney), Australian coloratura soprano, a singer of great popularity.

Nellie Melba, 1895.
[Credit: Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.]She sang at Richmond (Australia) Public Hall at the age of six and was a skilled pianist and organist, but she did not study singing until after her marriage to Charles Nesbitt Armstrong in 1882. She appeared in Sydney in 1885 and in London in 1886 and then studied in Paris. She made her operatic debut as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto in 1887 at Brussels under the name Melba, derived from that of the city of Melbourne. Until 1926 she sang in the principal opera houses of Europe and the United States, particularly Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera, excelling in Delibes’s Lakmé, as Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust, and as Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata. Her marriage was dissolved in 1900.

Nellie Melba.
[Credit: Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.]She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1918. In 1925 she published Melodies and Memories. She returned in 1926 to Australia, where she became president of the Melbourne Conservatorium. Melba toast and peach Melba were named for her.

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Nellie Melba - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)

(1861-1931). Although the Australian coloratura soprano Nellie Melba sang in public at the age of 6, she did not make her operatic debut for another 20 years. She made her debut in Brussels in 1887 as Gilda in Verdi’s ’Rigoletto’.

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Australian Dictionary of Biography - Dame Nellie Melba
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