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Nellie Melba (taken during the same photographic session)
Private collection of T. Max Hochstetler
Born Helen Porter Mitchell on 19 May, 1861 at Richmond-Melbourne, Australia, Nellie Melba was considered a super-star soprano. She received her vocal training from Ellen Christian and Pietro Cecchi. Following a bad marriage she devoted herself to singing after 1884. She met Mathilde Marchesi at an audition in London and trained with her in Paris, and adopted a suitable stage name, "Melba." She debut as "Gilda" in Verdi's Rigoletto at Brussels in 1887, and went on to sing with great success in London, Paris, Milan, New York, and other major cities. She was highly celebrated in her native Australia following her first homecoming tour in 1902. Melba's voice range was remarkable having an even quality over a range of three octaves. Between 1904 and 1926 she made almost 200 recordings, and became the first artist of international status to participate in live radio broadcasts. French chef,Auguste Escoffier, the legendary cook at Savoy Hotel in London concocted a thin crisp snack toast and later named it "Melba Toast" for this regular patron. He also created, "Peach Melba," "Melba Sauce (raspberries and red currant)," and "Melba Garniture (stuffed chicken and mushrooms)" in honor of her. Nellie Melba died at her estate in Australia in 1931.
(Kindly contributed by T. Max Hochstetler, June 2007)