Mention the name Melba and almost everyone knows who you are talking about – Australia’s first international star Dame Nellie Melba.
Born Helen Porter Mitchell at Richmond Victoria in 1861, she was the daughter of builder and businessman David Mitchell and Isabella Dow. Melba left Australia in 1886 and the following year made her operatic debut in at Brussels. Called the Queen of Song Melba went on to conquer and rule over all the major opera houses in Europe and USA for almost 40 years.
Despite her fame, Melba never forgot she was a colonial born Australian. She wrote: “If you wish to understand me at all you must understand first and foremost, that I am an Australian”