Media Releases 2011

Dame Nellie Melba's May birthday celebrations

27 April 2011

Photo of Dame Nellie Melba courtesy of Pamela, Lady VesteyOne of Australia’s original stars of the stage will be celebrated in a series of free public events in Richmond in May.

Dame Nellie Melba was born in Richmond 150 years ago next month so Council plans to recognise her musical legacy with pop up opera performances, a talk on her early life in Richmond and a free concert at Richmond Town Hall.

Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said Dame Nellie’s story of a local girl who went on to become one of the most famous singers of her time continued to inspire the generations of musicians who have followed her.   

“Dame Nellie was world famous long before most Australians really understood what that meant,” Cr Clarke said.

“The place she was born, which would have backed on to the present day Victoria Gardens shopping centre, was demolished decades ago, but her legendary musical presence has lived on.

“The events we have planned are being promoted as ‘opera for the people’ and we think Nellie would have liked that idea.

“Even after she had received standing ovations in the world’s most renowned opera houses, Dame Nellie returned to Australia to give performances in the halls of small rural towns so people from all walks of life could hear her sing.”

In that spirit, spontaneous opera performances are set to pop up in places around Richmond such as Swan Street, the Gleadell Street Market and Victoria Gardens shopping centre between 12 and 18 May.

Meanwhile, Council will hold a free concert at Richmond Town Hall on Thursday 19 May featuring performances from two of Australia’s finest artists - distinguished soprano Merlyn Quaife and accompanist/pianist Elyane Laussade.

They will be joined on stage by scholarship recipients of the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust and singers from The Opera Studio Melbourne.

Bookings are essential for the concert and can be made by calling Council on 9205 5025.

On Sunday 22 May at the Richmond Library, Ann Blainey, author of ‘I am Melba’, will speak about Dame Nellie’s early life in Richmond and her return to the suburb as an international star.

Event details

Opera for the People Concert at Richmond Town Hall

Thursday 19 May
6.30pm for 7.00pm start - 9.00pm 
This is a free concert so bookings essential
For bookings phone 9205 5025
Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Road, Richmond 3121

'I am Melba' - a free talk on the life of Dame Nellie by author Ann Blainey

Sunday 22 May
2.30pm - 3.30pm
This is a free event. No bookings are required 
Richmond Library, 415 Church Street, Richmond 3121 

*Photo courtesy of Pamela, Lady Vestey and

For more information about these events, please contact
Toby Walker
Senior Communications Officer
9205 5120  




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