Dame Nellie Melba GBE (1861 –1931) was Australia’s first world-famous opera singer, and one of the greatest celebrities of her day. Born in Richmond, Melbourne, she moved to Paris and went on to enjoy an enormously successful career as a prima donna in Australia, England, Europe and the United States during the early 20th century.
When she died, Melba bequeathed a generous amount of money dedicated to the development of young opera singers “so that another Melba may arise”. This unique and direct legacy from Melba is strengthened by the continued patronage of her late granddaughter Pamela, Lady Vestey which continues today through Melba’s great-great granddaughter, The Hon. Saffron Foster.
Melba’s gift established the Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship, which still exists today with Melba Opera Trust.
Melba was celebrated for her strength of character, her demand for excellence, her pioneering drive, patriotism, generosity, her holistic approach to vocal tuition, professionalism and business acumen. She taught at the Melba Conservatorium for many years and was especially fond of the institution. During her lifetime she supported young singers financially and took pride in giving them opportunities. She believed passionately that “a beautiful voice is not enough” and demanded that young singers learn about the presentation and business aspects of life as a professional singer. Melba Opera Trust seeks to encourage today’s young singers to develop a similar approach.
Melba was protective of her young singers and insisted that they should only sing appropriate repertoire for their stage of development, not taking on too much too soon. At Melba Opera Trust, we focus on the need for a young singer to mature at the right pace.
Melba Opera Trust is immensely proud of our genetic link to the great singer. The Trust is also the chief caretaker of her Memorial at Lilydale, Victoria – an enduring legacy.