StateLibQld 1 69095 Dame Nellie Melba photographed outside the Gresham Hotel, Brisbane, ca. 1909



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English: Dame Nellie Melba photographed outside the Gresham Hotel, Brisbane, ca. 1909.

Nellie Melba was born Helen Porter Mitchell on 19 May 1861 at Richmond, Melbourne. Her Scottish father, David Mitchell, was a building contractor and a good bass vocalist, and her mother, Isabella (nee Dow) was her first music teacher. She was educated at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne and received her early singing tuition from Ellen Christian and the Italian tenor, Pietro Cecchi, who is credited with urging her to make singing her vocation. After the death of her mother in 1881, followed by that of her youngest sister, Nellie accompanied her father to Mackay in Queensland, where he purchased a sugar mill. She married Charles Armstrong in Brisbane in 1882 and they had a son, George, the following year. The marriage ended in divorce in 1900. Nellie Returned to Melbourne in 1884, decided to become a professional singer and gave a number of concerts and recitals. In 1887, Melba made her operatic debut in Brussels as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto and went on to sing with great success in London, Paris, Milan, New York and other major cities. Within a few years she was regarded as one of the most accomplished and famous sopranos of her time.

Melba's triumphant home-coming in 1902 involved a concert tour of all Australian States and New Zealand. In 1909, she toured the Australian outback. In the same year, she bought a property at Coldstream near Lilydale, Victoria, and employed the architect John Grainger (father of the composer, Percy Grainger) to design Coombe Cottage. Based in Australia during the First World War, Melba worked tirelessly to raise funds for war charities. She also gave wartime concerts in North America. For her services to the war effort, Melba was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1918. During this period she established a singing school at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in Albert Street, now renamed the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music, providing her services free of charge.
Date circa 1909(1909)
Source Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.


Public domain This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v14 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2008).
Type of material Copyright has expired if ...
 A  Photographs or other works published anonymously, under a pseudonym or the creator is unknown: taken or published prior to 1 January 1955(1955-01-01)
 B  Photographs (except A): taken prior to 1 January 1955(1955-01-01)
 C  Artistic works (except A & B): the creator died before 1 January 1955(1955-01-01)
 D  Published editions1 (except A & B): first published more than 25 years ago
 E  Commonwealth or State government owned2 photographs and engravings: taken or published more than 50 years ago and prior to 1 May 1969(1969-05-01)

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State Library of Queensland This image has been digitised by the State Library of Queensland, and provided to the Wikimedia Commons as part of a cooperative project. The original photograph is in the public domain. The metadata has been released by State Library of Queensland under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 license.

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