Pseudonym/stage name (as a condensed version of Melbourne) for the Australian soprano Helen Armstrong (née Mitchell). Born 1861, died 1931.
Nellie Melba's European début in 1887 in Brussels/Bruxelles was the starting-point of a sensationally succesful international singing career.
As the diva of the London Covent Garden Theatre, she gave her farewell performance in 1926, and followed this with a few final performances in Australia. In the intervening years, she had established herself as a lasting icon of opera. Her semi-scandalous behaviour (for the era - the "scandal" consisted in a divorce in 1900, and a generally open-minded and outspoken demeanour) did not noticeably diminish her audience appeal.
Several films (notably Melba, 1953) have been made about Nellie Melba, and two television series (Behind the Legend, 1972, and Melba, 1987). Today, her name is probably more known for its association with the dessert, Peach Melba, which was named for her.
In 1918, she was honoured with the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.), and is remembered, accordingly, as "Dame Nellie Melba". In 1927, she was elevated to the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. She died in 1931 of sepsis, and is buried in Lilydale, Melbourne.