Performing Arts Collection
Opera Collection
Opera Collection

Arts Centre Melbourne's opera collection features the world's largest and most significant collection of material relating to the career of soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The development of opera in Australia can be traced through the Centre's extensive programme and photography collections.

Highlights in this area include a rare carte-de-visite photographic album featuring opera stars of the 1850 and 1860s, and silk programmes from the 1860s and 1870s documenting performances by the Lyster Grand Opera. Company and personality collections continue the story from the J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd Archive, which documents Williamson-sponsored opera tours between the 1920s and the 1960s to collections documenting the careers of Stella Power, the 'Little Melba'; Dame Joan Hammond and Gertrude Johnson and the National Theatre.

Costume and set designs for the Australian Elizabethan Opera, The Australian Opera and Victoria State Opera by artists such as Louis Kahan, Tim Walton, Anne Fraser and Kenneth Rowell provide a more visual insight into the evolution of opera staging in Australia while costumes such as Dame Joan Sutherland's 'Violetta' gown worn during her triumphant 1965 Australian season, and those worn by Suzanne Steele, Marie Collier, John Brownlee and artists from Melbourne's Chamber Made Opera offer a more tangible connection to the artform.

Opera - Contemporary
Contemporary Opera performance in Australia is a current focus of expansion within the collection as we seek to better represent the works of contemporary opera companies and performers.
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Opera - Classical
The most spectacular aspect of this collection is the Melba Stage Wardrobe donated in 1978 by Melba's grand-daughter Pamela, Lady Vestey. The classical opera collection also contains material relating to some of Melba's contemporaries, including soprano Frances Saville and flautist John Lemmone, as well as traditional operatic performers and designers from more recent times.
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Opera - Operetta
Light Opera, and in particular works by Gilbert and Sullivan, are represented within the major J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd Archive and also through some of the smaller company collections such as Pollards and the Northern Light Opera Company.
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Circus Collection
Dance Collection
Music Collection
Theatre Collection
Broadcast & Popular Entertainment