Large souvenir theatre programme issued by J.C. Williamson Ltd for a performance of the opera `La Boheme', starring Dame Nellie Melba at His Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne in 1924. It was held to raise funds for The Limbless and Tubercular Soldiers Appeal, casualties of World War I. The programme contains a large photographic portrait of Dame Nellie Melba, a two-page summary of her career, a facsimile handwritten note from her and a page detailing the evening's proceedings.

Physical Description

Large rectangular programme with thin light brown card covers with details of the concert printed on front in raised dark brown lettering. Inside are three glossy printed pages, two of which are held in place by gold wire covered threads, while the third page is loose. These are printed with a large black and white portrait of Dame Nellie Melba performing, as well as extensive text.


This programme is significant due to its links to famed Melbourne born opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, particularly her renowned run of farewell performances held around the world during the 1920s. The programme also reflects Melba's passion for raising funds for World War I related causes.

La Boheme was Melba’s favourite opera and many believed Mimi to be her finest role. Puccini’s love story set in the Latin quarter of Paris around 1830 remained in Melba’s repertoire until her retirement. Mimi, a consumptive dressmaker, falls in love with Rodolfo, a poor student and eventually dies in his arms. Many of Melba’s concerts included an aria from La Boheme. The famous quotation from the opera, Mimi’s dying words “farewell without bitterness” is inscribed upon Melba’s headstone.

During this concert, held on 13 October 1924 at His Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, she pronounced: “I have done my best… I have tried to keep faith with my art. For all that Australia has done for me, for all the beauty that she has shown me, for all the love she has offered, I wish to say, thank you from the bottom of my heart… I never was prouder than I am tonight to be an Australian woman”.

More Information