Famous Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba was born on this day, 19th May 1861.
Dame Nellie Melba was born Helen Porter Mitchell at “Doonside” in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond. She became the first Australian to achieve international recognition as an Opera soprano
Melba travelled throughout Europe and America during her career, and returned to Australia for several tours. During the First World War she was heavily involved in fund-raising to support the war effort and it was for this service that she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1918.
Her legacy continues as her name is associated with two foods, a dessert (the Pêche Melba), and Melba toast, while the music hall at the University of Melbourne is known as Melba Hall, and the Australian 100-dollar note features her image.
The State Library of New South Wales has items in its collection related to Nellie Melba, including a collection of her papers. Nellie Melba [as Ophelie in Thomas’s “Hamlet”], ca. 1889-1890 / photographer Benque, Paris