Nellie Melba - Aria & Song 1904-1921


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Melba. The name still has magic.

"The quality of musical tone cannot be adequately described, No words can convey to a music lover who did not hear Melba any idea of the sounds with which she ravished all ears... This writer never heard any other just like it. Its beauty, its power, its clarion quality… It has been called silvery, but what does that signify? There is one quality, which it had and which may be comprehended by those who did not hear her; it had splendour. The tones glowed with a starlike brilliance. They flamed with a white flame. And they possessed a remarkable force, which the famous singer always used with continence. She gave the impression of singing well within her limits". [New York critic W.J. Henderson who heard Melba at the peak of her career between 1893 and 1903]

This double CD attempts to convey the distinctive voice of Dame Nellie Melba, re-recorded and mastered by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia utilising an innovative process. The original disc recordings were played using archival Gramophone equipment, and the music recorded through ambient microphones. The recordings took place in the Senate Chamber of Old Parliament House in Canberra - a location already associated with Melba as she sang in person at the opening of Parliament House in 1927.

2 CD set plus 32 page booklet

This wonderfully produced booklet contains plenty of history, images and information about Dame Nellie Melba, her performance to open Parliament House in 1927 and the recording process undertaken by NFSA technicians at the same venue 75 years later. Frank Van Stratten writes on 'Melba: The Voice of Australia' and Bruce Skilton offers an appreciation of her music, as well as track notes for each of the pieces selected.

Disc 1 - Arias from Operas (15 tracks)

1. God Save the King (Trad)

2. Puccini: LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimi

3. Puccini: LA BOHÈME: O soave fanciulla

4. Puccini: LA BOHÈME: Donde lieta uscì al tuo grido d'amore

5. Mozart: IL RE PASTORE: l'amero saro costante

6. Mozart: LE NOZZE DE FIGARO voi che sapete

7. Mozart: LE NOZZE DE FIGARO porgi amor

8. Massenet: DON CÉSAR DE BAZAN: À Séville, belle Señoras (Sevillana),

9. Lalo: LE ROI D'YS: Puisqu'on ne peut fléchir… Vainement, ma bien aimée (Aubade)

10. Verdi: RIGOLETTO: Caro nome

11. Verdi LA TRAVIATA: Ah! Fors'è lui… Follie! Follie!... Sempre libera

12. Donizetti: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR: Del ciel clemente un riso (Mad Scene)

13. Charpentier: LOUISE: Depuis de jour

14. Wagner: LOHENGRIN: Sola ne miei prim anni (Elsa's Dream)

15. Rimsky-Korsakov: SADKO: Les diamants chez nous… (Chanson Hindoue)

Disc 2 - Songs (16 tracks)

1. Arditi: Se saran rose

2. Hahn: Si mes vers avaient des ailes

3. Bemberg: Sur le lac

4. Bemberg: Chant hindou

5. Bemberg: Les anges pleurent

6. Lottie: Pur dicesti, o bocca, bocca bella

7. Bizet: Pastorale

8. Hahn: D'une prison

9. Hue: Soir paiën

10. Debussy: (i) Romance (ii) Mandoline

11. Duparc: Chanson triste

12. Chausson: Le temps des lilas

13. Ronald: The White Sea Mist

14. White: Andersen. My Jo

15. Lehmann: Magdalen at Michael's Gate

16. Dvorak: Songs my mother taught me

© National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


A New Melba?: The Tragedy of Amy Castles by Jeff Brownrigg.

An extensive work of research on early 20th century soprano Amy Castles, hailed as 'the next Melba'.


Year: 2002

Artist: Dame Nellie Melba

Discs: 2

SKU 201671500
Brand NFSA

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