As part of Melba Opera Trust’s commitment to championing Dame Nellie Melba’s legacy, in 2016 the program launched its inaugural Melba Pilgrimage – a chance for scholars to learn more about the namesake whose memory they are championing.

The Pilgrimage took scholars to Melba’s beloved Yarra Valley where they visited her Memorial at Lilydale Lawn Cemetery and enjoyed a talk from a local Melba expert. Following this, scholars visited Melba’s home, Coombe – The Melba Estate for a private tour of Melba’s home.

Following years included a visit to Yarra Ranges Museum to view Melba artefacts and a drive on the Melba Highway to enjoy the hospitality of Melba partners, De Bortoli wines.

World Class Mentors

It was a great pleasure to add Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ CH DBE AC and Dame Felicity Lott DBE FRAM FRCM to the Melba’s exceptional line up of Melba mentors in 2016.

British soprano Dame Felicity Lott gave a master class at Beleura House & Garden. Among the audience was Anthony Knight OAM, Director of the Tallis Foundation, which generously supports the Mentor Program. He found it fascinating to see how a master class works: “I suspect there is no better way to perfect something than being guided by a master in the field – an experienced person at the peak of their career and somebody who has given and achieved so much.”

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ CH DBE AC was hosted by Lady Southey AC for a master class at Cranlana. It was an enlightening opportunity for the singers involved, who received wonderful “industry truths” and helpful technical support. Having created the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation more than ten years ago, Dame Kiri is passionate about assisting young singers with financial support, judicious mentoring and career assistance. She generously imparted significant knowledge with our scholars.

“We are very happy to be part of the Mentor Program, particularly as it accords with John Tallis’ hope that the Foundation can help young people, and what better way than through expert mentoring.”

– Anthony Knight OAM

A change of leadership

Roz Zalewski-Ruskin with Robert G. Logie-Smith AM

2016 marked a change of leadership for Melba Opera Trust following the retirement of longstanding Chair, Robert G. Logie Smith AM and the appointment of Roz Zalewski-Ruskin.

Rob was awarded the prestigious Melba Medal for his sterling leadership and vision of Melba Opera Trust from 2005-2016. When reflecting on his legacy to Melba Opera Trust, Rob said “the journey for me as Chair has been amazing and rewarding. I love watching the scholars’ progress and seeing them achieve their dreams, both locally and internationally. I am particularly proud of the Mentor Program, in which we have acknowledged international industry leaders work with our scholars. The achievements of our alumni reflect the effectiveness of this approach.”

Prior to becoming the Melba Chair, Roz Zalewski-Ruskin had already spent six years serving on the Board as Deputy Chair. A retired lawyer with qualifications in professional ethics and business governance, Roz’s vision for the Melba has been inspiring. Her focus is on implementing best practice with contemporary governance structures that acknowledge and respect the rights and responsibilities of all.

Roz is motivated by her dedication to young people attaining their full potential. Her love of opera is deep:

“Opera tells a story like no other dramatic platform. Opera feeds my soul. The young people I meet through Melba inspire me with their passion, intelligence, determination and sophistication.”

– Roz Zalewski-Ruskin, 2019


The Melba’s fifth fully endowed scholarship was announced in 2016, thanks to the wonderful and long-term generosity of Paulette and Warwick Bisley.

They have nurtured life-long passions for music and the arts and Paulette’s mother was an accomplished singer. They were introduced to the Melba by attending one of our first Boardroom lunches in 2009.

Warwick and Paulette Bisley with recipient Daniel Carison

Their decision to endow a perpetual scholarship reflects Paulette’s passion for opera. It pays tribute to her mother and was born from a desire to help ensure the future for young Australian opera singers.

The inaugural Paulette Bisley Opera Scholarship recipient was awarded to baritone, Daniel Carison, to be followed in 2018 by baritone Stephen Marsh.

Return to Stowell Park Estate

A reprise of the hugely successful event held two years earlier, Lord and Lady Vestey, alongside our Honourary Patron, The Hon. Saffron Foster, generously opened their Cotswolds estate, Stowell Park, to host An Evening of Opera, featuring Melba alumni, Lauren Fagan, Jade Moffat and Samuel Sakker and acclaimed Australian vocal coach, Linnhe Robertson, on piano.

Lady Vestey presented Lauren with “Granny Melba’s” necklace to wear for the evening, a piece designed especially for Melba by Cartier. Lauren became the first person to wear it since Dame Nellie herself and was later involved in modelling the jewellery ahead of a recent Cartier exhibition.

Raising more than $10,000 in ticket sales and donations, the event supported the continuation of the Dame Nellie Melba scholarship. Melba’s legacy lives on, in no small part thanks to the continued generosity of the Vestey family.

Image: Lauren Fagan in Melba Necklace by Cartier.


Patrons-in-Chief announced

HE the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria & Mr Howard AM QC


Robert G Logie-Smith AM retires as Chair of Board

Roz Zalewski-Ruskin appointed as Chair of Board



Zoe Drummond

Bronwyn Douglass

Nicholas Tolputt

Shakira Tsindos

Daniel Carison

Michael Petruccelli

Timothy Newton

Jonathan Wilson

Simon Bruckard

Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship

Patrick & Vivian Gordon Award

Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholarship

John & Elizabeth Wright-Smith Scholarship

Joseph Sambrook Opera Scholarship

Paulette Bisley Opera Scholarship

Ruskin Opera Award

RJ & AF Hamer Opera Scholarship

Stuart Leslie Opera Scholarship

Margaret Schofield Opera Scholarship

Margaret Schofield Opera Scholarship

The articles contained within this page were curated and compiled from previous editions of Melba Opera Trust publications da capo and The Melba.