Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Ms Melba....

Hello Dhaaarlings...


Australia's original Opera Diva

Dame Nellie Melba (Ger) 

would be celebrating her 150th Birthday today

She was really quite the superstar of her time... touring the world regularly playing all of the greatest opera houses and giving Royal Command Performances

"Melba was known for her demanding, temperamental personality. John McCormack, on the night of his London debut, attempted to take a bow with her on stage, but she pushed him back forcefully, saying "In this house, no one takes a bow with Melba." 

When recording with lesser studio artists, she would never try to hide her contempt for them, once dismissing tenor Ernest Pike as "one of the bloody chorus".

 She enjoyed singing with Enrico Caruso, but considered him coarse and uncultivated; he would play practical jokes on her, on one occasion - whilst singing the Puccini aria Che Gelida Manina ("Your Tiny Hand is Frozen") - pressing a hot sausage into her hand.

 She jealously guarded her position as prima donna, in the process earning both the enmity and the awe of many colleagues. Emma Eames' memoirs describe Melba as a wicked force who frustrated opportunity after opportunity for Eames; Eames also averred that when playing Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, Melba, when singing the jewel song, "would have hung the jewels off her nose if she could!" 
Titta RuffoRosa Ponselle, McCormack, Luisa TetrazziniFrances Alda, and others also described their unpleasant experiences with Melba. Mary Garden, another rival, wrote "I never saw such a fat Mimì in my life. Melba didn’t impersonate the role at all – she never did that" (Melba's dramatic skills were once described as being limited to indicating emotion by raising one arm - and indicating great emotion by raising both); but continued, "but, my God, how she sang it."

Australia's "First Dame of Divadom" in every sense of the word... 

Well before the likes of the singular named Divas of today

This Bird Could Sing....

Toward the end of her career Melba gave what turned out to be a series of "final" concerts... Each was expected to be her last public performance.

This generated a popular colloquialism..

"More farewells than Melba"....

   often muttered in frustration by a disgruntled, watch checking and toe tapping husband.... while waiting for the wife still busy doing the rounds of goodbyes when leaving a party or gathering...

(My father was a great one to mutter this on many an occasion)

Happy Birthday Nellie....


  1. You’ve got to love a woman who has a dessert named after her.

  2. todays culture lesson! I loved la boheme. more farewells than melba. grrrhahahaha like that.

    Im sorry I failed to play MCW i will try next week. (i had only seen one HG movie and wasnt thrilled)

  3. I like what Caruso did!

    wv: burana (!)