Lead: Australia has a rich history of cultural icons: Phar-Lap the indefatigable race horse; Ned Kelly, the iron clad bank robber; yet none surpass the impact of opera singer and early 20th century material girl, Nellie Melba.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in 1861 of musically inclined Scottish immigrant parents in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond, Nellie Melba performed in her first singing concert at the age of six, and began professional training in 1880. Though she was developing into a powerful coloratura soprano, Australia was far from the center of the operatic universe. If she was to succeed in that world, she would have to go to Europe. In 1886 she auditioned for and was received as a student of the mezzo-soprano Parisian vocal master, Madame Mathilda Marchesi. Marchezi recognized a unique talent, trained her for six months, and then, using her connections, opened the doors. Possessed of her father’s confidence, Melba strode onto the stage at Theatre de la Monnai in Brussels in October 1887 and never looked back. Her intense soprano with its icily brilliant, trill vibrato grabbed the imagination of the opera world and soon she was playing to packed houses in London, Paris, St. Petersburg, New York and, eventually even Italians embraced Nellie.


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