A young mother, with a will of iron and voice of gold, sails from the cane fields of Queensland with an unshakable dream of becoming a world class soprano. Arriving in Europe Nellie Armstrong is soon accepted into one of the most prestigious vocal academies in Paris… L’cole Marchesi.
An uneasy bargain must, therefore, be struck with Nellie’s controlling husband, Charlie, over the custody of their son. Working as a single mother, the self-crowned, ‘Nellie
With her lover and child firmly by her side it looks as though nothing can stop
Plot / Synopsis
The most famous woman in the world, Melba, returns to Australia to give a series of sold out operatic concerts. As she manages the frenzy that surrounds her fame she is confronted with the memory of her younger self, Nellie Armstrong, and her tense relationship with, George, her toddler.
Nellie has sailed from the cane fields of Queensland with an unshakable dream of becoming a world class soprano. Arriving in Europe she is soon accepted into one of the most prestigious vocal academies in Paris… L’Ecole Marchesi. An uneasy bargain must, therefore, be struck with Nellie’s controlling husband, Charlie, over the custody George.
Balancing work and home life, the self-crowned, ‘NellieWith her lover and child firmly by her side it looks as though nothing can stop
As Nellie and the Duc D’Orleans grow closer in their connection Charlie, and his barrister, file for divorce. They demand sole custody of George and sue the Duc D’Orleans for two hundred thousand pounds in damages. Nellie feels the public turn on her as the society scandal erupts.
The family drama begins to play out in newspaper headlines. Charlie reveals damning secrets from Nellie’s past and Nellie documents Charlie’s history of drunkenness and violence. It is the ‘Trial of the Century’. The Duc D’Orleans is then placed in the position, by his distraught father, of having to choose between his own family and the woman he loves.
With her opera contracts evaporating and her husband granted temporary custody of George all appears lost for Nellie until a visit from her father, David, helps her to find a new sense of fight. Finding a legal loophole Nellie, and her lawyer, manage to convince the divorce trial Judge that Charlie is not a resident and therefore cannot be granted access to the Court. Charlie’s case is dismissed and he is left in financial ruin.
Before she can begin a new life with George Nellie must farewell her beloved Duc who has been forced to marry his cousin to protect the line. Waiting to be reunited with her son Nellie is devastated to learn that Charlie has taken George and left the country - effectively kidnapping him. Nellie summons all her courage to go on and hopes that her dear child, one day, will return to her.
MADAME MELBA: A bel canto soprano. She is an empress within the operatic
world. She is predominantly in concert mode – entertaining a Melbourne audience in 1902. Entrepreneurial. Regal.
NELLIE ARMSTRONG: The younger version of the elder Melba. True grit personified
with a voice of ‘one in ten thousand’. She is determined to
achieve her dreams of a singing career. Driven. Perfectionist.
CHARLES ARMSTRONG: Nellie’s drover husband and father of George. He is
uncomfortable in most social settings. A man of action rather
than words. Volatile. Mercurial.
GEORGE ARMSTRONG: Nellie’s sensitive and artistic son. Devoted to his mother.
Nervous around his father. Sweet. Needy.
MADAME MARCHESI: “The Prussian Drill Master”. Nellie’s militant singing teacher.
The creator of the Marchesi Method. Stoic. Intuitive.
BLANCHE MARCHESI: Madame’s daughter and Nellie’s rival. Desperate to help her
mother revive the reputation of the Method. Rigid. Highbrow.
SALVATORE MARCHESI: Madame’s husband and father of Blanche. A former opera
performer from an aristocratic family. Assists Madame in
accompanying her lessons. Caring. Excitable.
GLADYS DEGREY : Married to Lord Frederick DeGrey. Socialite who intends to
turn around the fortunes of the floundering Covent Garden.
FREDERICK DEGREY: Married to Lady Gladys DeGrey. One of the key investors in
the new Covent Garden. Reliable. Astute.
DAVID MITCHELL: Nellie’s Scottish father. A devout Presbyterian and serious
businessman who has a soft spot for his daughter. Godly.
PHILIPPE BOURBON: Duke of Orleans. The heir to the abolished French throne. Son
of the Comte de Paris. Exiled in England. Lover of the Arts.
MINOR CHARACTERS AND CHORUS.
(CAN BE STAGED WITH A MINIMUM OF NINE OR LARGE ENSEMBLE)
DOCTOR, MUSGROVE, SISTER VIANI, COMTE, SHAW, REPORTER, GUARDS 1 AND 2, STAGEHAND, TATE, HECKLER, GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, COLUMNISTS 1,2,3, JUDGE, JOURNALISTS 1,2,3, 4, HOTEL MANAGER, MAID,CONDUCTOR, TENOR, HARRIS, AGNES MURPHY, TICKET OFFICER, POLICEMAN.