Nellie Melba

Soprano Nellie Melba

Full Name: Helen Armstrong
Profession: Soprano


Biography: Australian soprano Nellie Melba was one of the most famous opera singers of her time and regarded with special reverence in her home country. Born Helen Armstrong, she took the name Melba after her native city, Melbourne.

After an early marriage, which later ended in divorce Melba travelled to Europe where she studied in Paris before making her debut in 1887. Melba's popularity rose and she established a successful relationship with Covent Garden during its Golden Age. There Melba developed a close association with the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso in Giacomo Puccini's "La “Bohème” in 1902.

In 1902 Melba made a triumphant return to Australia where she toured with great success. Although her roles were limited, Melba talent at self-promotion and her star quality meant she able to maintain a long and feted career. In 1913 Covent Garden celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of her first appearance there with a gala performance in her honor.

Melba performed her last opera roles in 1928, just three years before her death. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1918.

Born: May 19, 1861
Birthplace: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Star Sign: Taurus

Died: February 23, 1931 (aged 69)

Married Life

  • 1882-12-22 Australian soprano Nellie Melba (21) weds Charles Nesbitt Frederick Armstrong in Brisbane; separate in 1883, marriage dissolved in 1900

Historical Events

  • 1887-10-13 Australian soprano Nellie Melba makes her operatic debut as Gilda in "Rigoletto" at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels
  • 1901-03-23 Australian opera star Dame Nellie Melba reveals secret of her now famous toast
  • 1902-05-14 Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his Covent Garden debut opposite Nellie Melba in Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" in London

Biographies and Sources

Famous Opera Singers