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100 years ago today in Spokane: Opera star Melba prepares to sing in Spokane

From the March 13, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (S-R archives)
From the March 13, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (S-R archive)

Madame Nellie Melba, one of the most famous opera singers in the world, was in Spokane preparing to sing at the Auditorium Theater.

A Spokane Daily Chronicle reporter obtained an interview with her in her private rail car. When he entered, Madame Melba said, “I just hate you reporters,” but then she “smiled and extended her hand in a manner that belied her words.” She talked and laughed freely with the reporter.

“I am very fond of outdoor sports,” said the Australian prima donna. “Give me a horse, a gun and some fishing tackle and I’m the happiest woman in the world. I just love, even now, to steal off in the woods and spend an hour fishing in a small stream. I like to be human. Any success I will ever have will be unable to make anything else of me.”

She said the raging world war had not made “the slightest change in the program I offer to the people.”

“There is no danger to the war doing harm to music,” she said. “Music is an art – the most beautiful art, and made to last – the war cannot hurt it.”

After 15 minutes she remembered one of her rules – she doesn’t talk extensively on days she is scheduled to sing.

“Oh, I’ve broken a rule to talk to you,” she said. “I don’t care. I’m very delighted that you came.”

She was a superstar of her time, but today she may be most remembered for the foods named after her by a French chef: Peach Melba, Melba sauce and Melba toast.