Dame Nellie Melba and Ukulele Envy

The Argus of 6 March 1928 (page 16) noted that Dame Nellie Melba has offended the city of Sydney.

Sydney feels keenly Dame Nellie Melba’s inferential slight on this city and its beaches in her laudation of Honolulu and its attractions. It is thought that Dame Nellie Melba became mesmerised by the ukulele and the moonlight, for she speaks of the ukulele almost with reverence. That, however, would not matter a great deal. Sydney claims that in beaches and moonlight it is unsurpassed. Its people are peeved by the revelation that Melba surfed twice a day in Honolulu. There is no record of her having done so here once a day as a regular practice. Her determination to buy a bungalow home on Waikiki Beach is the greatest advertisement that Honolulu resort has had in recent years, and it will be fully availed of in the publicity of the clever people who boom the Hawaiian moon, the ukulele, the surfing beaches, and the volcanoes. Manly has yet to be heard from in connection with the transference of affection of Australia’s best known citizen. Probably a score of its residents are even now writing the newspaper on the subject. 

Wikipedia has failed to note Melba’s love of the ukulele — shocking omission.

[Update: The Sydney Morning Herald of 5 March 1928 (page 10) noted Dame Nellie’s return to Sydney after a seven week holiday in Honolulu. It reported that there “she had enjoyed one of her finest holidays”. (But no talk of the 67 year old surfing twice a day.)

Everyone in Honolulu was happy, she said, no long faces there. The SMH noted that “the eminent singer was greatly interested by the ukulele music. The playing of one of these orchestras, she said, had a fascination of its own.”]

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Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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