Nellie Melba was the professional name of Helen Porter Mitchell (1861–1931). The Australian soprano was born in Melbourne, the city from which she took her name. She sang at Covent Garden, London, from 1888 to 1926, and at intervals with the Metropolitan Opera Company, New York. Famous for her lyric and coloratura roles, Sarah Bernhardt described her voice as being ‘pure crystal’ and Percy Grainger claimed that her voice always made him ‘mindsee Australia’s landscapes’. When Bunny painted this portrait, Melba was at the pinnacle of her success and beginning her artistic partnership with the tenor, Enrico Caruso.