Hayes Theatre Co

A home for Music Theatre and Cabaret in Sydney.

Hayes Theatre Co

Melba A New Musical

Book & Lyrics by Nicholas Christo, Music by Johannes Luebbers

Performance and Booking Details


Performances 11 August 2017 - 9 September 2017


  • Mon 6:30 pm
  • Tues - Sat 7:30 pm
  • Wed & Sat 2:00 pm

Running Time

2 hours and 20 minutes incl. interval

Adapted from the book “Marvelous Melba” by Ann Blainey

Presented by Hayes Theatre Co and New Musicals Australia

Director Wayne Harrison
Musical Director Michael Tyack
Production Designer Mark Thompson
Lighting Designer Trudy Dalgleish
Sound Designer Caitlin Porter
Production Manager Di Misirdjieff
Executive Producer Kerry Comerford

Starring Emma Matthews as Melba, Annie Aitken, Michael Beckley, Caitlin Berry, Andrew Cutcliffe, Blake Erickson, Genevieve Lemon and Samuel Skuthorp

A marriage, a scandal, a lost child.

Dame Nellie Melba was the most celebrated singer of her generation. Lauded on more than three continents as a phenomenon, her life was the stuff that dreams are made of, but her journey to the top was not always untroubled.

From humble beginnings as Nellie Mitchell in Melbourne, to the stages of opera houses across Europe, MELBA charts the life of a woman who was determined to be the best in a conservative world. Melba’s life was filled with triumph and tragedy, stardom and shame; a story that is little known beyond her stellar career.

Blending contemporary music theatre with operatic arias, MELBA brings to life a woman we know so well, yet not at all.

Hayes Theatre Co and New Musicals Australia are thrilled to present this new Australian work, which was previously developed as part of the New Musicals Australia program. Directed by internationally acclaimed director, Wayne Harrison with musical direction by Michael Tyack and starring one of Australia’s most popular opera stars, Emma Matthews as Dame Nellie Melba.

Also featuring Annie Aitkin (The Sound of Music, Anything Goes) as the young Nellie Armstrong making her way from Australia to Paris and the world stage, Michael Beckley (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, A Little Night Music), Caitlin Berry (Jekyll & Hyde, Doctor Zhivago), Blake Erickson (Les Misérables, Grey Gardens), Adam Rennie (Big Fish, Love Never Dies) and newcomer Samuel Skuthorp.

Performances: From 11 August 2017
Mon 6.30pm | Tues – Sat 7.30pm | Wed & Sat 2.00pm

Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 20 mins (with interval)



“…Matthews and Aitken are both sensational. It’s a real thrill to hear Matthews sing in such an intimate setting… Aitken, who has the lion’s share of the acting as Melba, animates all the scenes she’s in… her performance in Melba announces a major talent.” ★★★½ 

- Jo Litson, Limelight

Melba is an experience not to be missed – pure and simple. …Caitlin Berry is hilarious…Adam Rennie is heartthrob material vocally and – um – otherwise… Andrew Cutcliffe is a dangerously appealing singer-actor. … Melba is a peach of a show.

- Diana Simmonds, Stagenoise

“…stand out performances come from Caitlin Berry as Nellie’s best friend and benefactor, the gossipy socialite Gladys de Grey and Adam Rennie as Nellie’s love interest Philippe D’Orleans.

 For opera fans and musical theatre fans alike, MELBA will definitely satisfy. A combination of classic works and new compositions, it is refreshing to see Australian stories told on Australian stages by an Australian cast and creatives.”


- Jade Kops, Broadwayworld

Lyricist and book writer Nicholas Christo and composer Johannes Luebbers have cleverly crafted Melbabuoyed by a smartly structured book and some excellent vocal and dramatic performances in its premiere production at the Hayes Theatre.

 Genevieve Lemon is as irresistible as ever as Melba’s teacher Madame Marchesi.

- Ben Neutze, Daily Review

“Opera meets musical theatre surprisingly effectively in Melba’s sound world. You have to hand it to Johannes Luebbers. Not many composers would have the chutzpah to put their music alongside that of Verdi, Puccini and Rossini, but he has done it in this new bio-musical with grace and style.

 Nellie — is played by up-and-comer Annie Aitken…with a lovely bright soprano and effortless presence. Melba — gets the gift of being incarnated by lustrous Emma Matthews.

 With Wayne Harrison (director) and Michael Tyack (music director) at the helm, Melba is given A-list treatment.”

- Deborah Jones, The Australian

“All the performances are top-notch. Aitken is a star in the making, bringing young Nellie to life with nuance, a dash of recklessness, and a beautiful soprano in her own right. With Matthews’ classical gravitas and Berry’s twinkling secret weapon of support roles – and a strong ensemble to boot, wearing many hats with aplomb – Melba is a success in casting and performance.” 

- Cassie Tongue, Time Out

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