Vintage Portrait of Legendary Opera Singer Nellie Melba (1859-1931)

Dame Nellie Melba GBE (1861 – 1931) born Helen “Nellie” Porter Mitchell became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian Era and the early 20th century. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician.

She was an operatic soprano. She sang at Richmond (Australia) Public Hall at the age of six and was also a skilled pianist and organist, but she did not study singing until after her marriage to Charles Nesbitt Armstrong in 1882, with whom she had a son named George. In the 1890s she had an affair with Philippe, Duke of Orleans, that led to scandal and eventually divorce.

After the brief and unsuccessful marriage, she moved to Europe in search of a singing career. Failing to find engagements in London in 1886, she studied in Paris and soon made a great success there and in Brussels. Returning to London she quickly established herself as the leading lyric soprano at Covent Garden from 1888. She soon achieved further success in Paris and elsewhere in Europe, and later at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, debuting there in 1893. Her repertoire was small; in her whole career she sang no more than 25 roles and was closely identified with only ten.

Melba continued to sing until the last months of her life and made a legendary number of “farewell” appearances. Her death, in Australia, was news across the English-speaking world, and her funeral was a major national event.

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Drawing of the young Nellie Melba by Frank Haviland, published 1908 via

 

Yvonne Arnaud by Bassano (1912)

Yvonne Arnaud (1890 – 1958) was a French pianist, singer and actress.

After beginning a career as a concert pianist as a child, Arnaud acted in musical comedies.

until 1911, she performed with leading orchestras throughout Europe and the US. In 1911 she decided to try the stage instead of the concert hall and obtained an engagement at London’s Adelphi Theatre as understudy to Elsie Spain in the role of Princess Mathilde in The Quaker Girl, first going on stage in that role on 7 August 1911. She next played the leading role of Suzanne in the musical The Girl in the Taxi (1912), earning popularity with her vivacity and charming French accent.

Around 1920 she switched to non-musical comedy and drama and was one of the players in the second of the Aldwych farces, A Cuckoo in the Nest, a hit in 1925.

She also had dramatic roles and made films in the 1930s and 40s, and continued to act into the 1950s.

She occasionally performed as a pianist later in her career.

by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912

Yvonne Arnaud by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912

via

© National Portrait Gallery, London

by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912

Yvonne Arnaud by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912

© National Portrait Gallery, London

by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912
Yvonne Arnaud by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, November 1912

via

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 

Victorian/Edwardian Circus Acts

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Circus Performer Zelda Boden, 1910s via

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Circus cyclists, c. 1891 via

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“Trick Rider”. Usually they would ride in circles doing various tricks on the ponies via

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Circus Girl with horse, 1908 via

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CIRCUS HARLEQUIN Performer, c. 1910 via

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Sanger’s Circus carriage, late 19th century Great Britain via

Beautiful Ethereal Edwardian Postcards

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Detail of a French postcard via

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Antique Hand Tinted Real Photo Postcard via

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Antique theatre photo postcard, vintage stage artist Marguerite Brésil via

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Woodland Nymph Examines Leaf, German Postcard, Posted in France, 1909 via

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Romantic Portrait of Edwardian Lady in Ethereal Green Gown by Seaside with Pink Flowers & Columns, early 1900s via

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Edwardian Ballet Dancer Gwen Hope in Sparkling Tutu Costume and Fairy Wings, early 1900s via

Wonderful Edwardian Hand-coloured Postcards of Gabrielle Ray

Gabrielle Ray (1883 – 1973), was an English stage actress, dancer and singer, best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies.

NPG x198003; Gabrielle Ray by Bassano Ltd, published by  Aristophot Co Ltd

Gabrielle Ray by Bassano Ltd, published by Aristophot Co Ltd
hand-coloured postcard print, 1900s.

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x198011; Gabrielle Ray by Bassano Ltd, published by  Aristophot Co Ltd

Gabrielle Ray by Bassano Ltd, published by Aristophot Co Ltd
hand-coloured postcard print, 1900s

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x160555; Gabrielle Ray published by Davidson Brothers

Gabrielle Ray by The Biograph Studio, published by Davidson Brothers
hand-coloured bromide postcard print, circa 1903

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x196335; Gabrielle Ray by W. & D. Downey, published by  The Philco Publishing Co

Gabrielle Ray by W. & D. Downey, published by The Philco Publishing Co
hand-coloured bromide postcard print with glitter and sequins, circa 1905

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x196336; Gabrielle Ray by W. & D. Downey, published by  The Philco Publishing Co

Gabrielle Ray by W. & D. Downey, published by The Philco Publishing Co
hand-coloured bromide postcard print, 1905

© National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x22002; Gabrielle Ray published by Davidson Brothers

Gabrielle Ray published by Davidson Brothers
hand-coloured postcard print, circa 1905

© National Portrait Gallery, London via