# 41920

MELBA, Nellie, Dame (1861-1931)

Nellie Melba, opera singer : autograph note signed, to a Mrs. Featherstonhaugh, mentioning that in order to preserve her singing voice she is not allowed to talk.

$500.00 AUD

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[No date or place, but almost certainly Sydney, NSW, 1902]. 2 pp. manuscript in ink on an octavo-size bifolium of Melba’s personalised stationery with the singer’s embossed monogram NM in blue and gold at the head of the first side; addressed to a Mrs. Featherstonhaugh and signed at the foot of the second side ‘Yours sincerely, Nellie Melba’; mounted open on a section cut from an album page; clean and legible.

Internal references suggest this note in the hand of the great Australian operatic soprano Nellie Melba (born Helen Porter Mitchell, 1861-1931) was almost certainly written by her in Sydney in 1902, during her first return visit to Australia from Europe.

Dear Mrs. Featherstonhaugh,

I am so sorry I have been unable to see anything of the girls: but when singers’ throats go wrong everything goes wrong & I have not been allowed to talk – I am obliged to go to the harbour today with the Rawsons otherwise I should have been so glad to have had a little chat. I shall hope to see you on my return.

Yours sincerely,

Nellie Melba.

My love to the girls.

In this note, “the Rawsons” could refer to the Mackay, Queensland family whom Melba had befriended during her brief and unhappy marriage to Charles Armstrong in the early 1880s; just as likely, though, it is a reference to Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson (1843-1910), who was appointed Governor of New South Wales in 1902, and his wife Florence.

Provenance: Autograph album compiled by Jane Emma Murphy (Balcombe) (1854–1924), “The Briars,” Mornington, Victoria (Australia); à Beckett family, Melbourne (by descent).