The Melba Project

Hear the songs and arias that entranced audiences all over the world.

Nellie Melba (1861–1931) was the premiere operatic soprano of her day. In a career spanning five decades, she traveled the world to perform in countless opera productions and in the packed houses of her concert tours. Her recordings were among the first productions of the Gramophone and Victor labels, and her name graced fashion and cosmetic brands, and gourmet foods. She was the quintessential star of her time, and to perform with her, as flutists Gaubert, Moyse, Griffith, and Lemmone were privileged to do, meant they were able to share in her audience and success.

The Melba Project, a research and performing partnership between flutist Jessica Raposo and soprano Danielle Cozart Steele, has set out to explore Melba’s soprano-flute collaborations throughout her career. Melba consistently performed and recorded three items that included flute obligato: G. F. Handel’s aria “Sweet Bird,” from the oratorio L’Allegro, il Penseroso et il Moderato; Sir Henry Bishop’s “Lo! Here the Gentle Lark,” from his incidental music for a production of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors; and the “Mad Scene” from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor. The first two songs, while composed well before Melba’s time, had remained in the English song repertory; and Melba’s performances as Lucia in the Paris and London opera houses led to the opera’s increased popularity that continues to this day.

Using original recordings and firsthand accounts, The Melba Project concerts share Melba’s story, feature the songs and arias her audiences loved, and take inspiration from her programs to explore new directions in soprano-flute chamber music.

Selections Include:


Lucia’s Mad Scene


Handel’s Sweet Bird


Andersen’s Hungarian Fantasy


Traviata, Ah fors’e lui


Art songs by Hahn and Fauré


German’s Early One Morning

In 2019/20, The Melba Project concerts are made possible by the support of the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency.

Dr. Jessica Raposo is Associate Professor of Music at Indiana University East. As a flutist, she performs as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician in Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, and Canada. Jessica earned her music degrees from the University of Michigan, the Royal Academy of Music (London), and the University of British Columbia (Vancouver). Prior to her position at IU East, she taught flute for King’s College (London) and Fairfield University.  Her research into the flute’s English performance history won her the National Flute Association’s Graduate Research Competition, and her articles have been published in the journals of the NFA, the British Flute Society, and the Netherlands Flute Society. Dr. Raposo is a frequent presenter at the NFA annual conventions, and has presented at the College Music Society national conference and the IUPUI Assessment Institute. Her orchestral experience includes the Vancouver, Burnaby, and Muncie symphonies.

Danielle Cozart Steele enjoys a multifaceted career as a researcher, clinician, conductor, and singer. She is the founder of the Transgender Singing Voice Conference, and instructor of voice and choir at Indiana University East. She previously served as the Interim Director of Choral Activities at Earlham College. Ms. Cozart Steele is an alumna of Butler University and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Currently pursuing her doctorate at Columbia University, Danielle is an intersectional scholar of choral music and trans/queer inclusivity. She recently served as Interim Director for MUSE, Cincinnati’s social-justice-centered women’s chorus. She also worked with the Dayton Correctional Institute for Women prison chorus, Hope for Harmony. Danielle’s colorful, lyric soprano voice has earned her roles on the stages of Des Moines Metro Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Peach State Opera, Sugar Creek Symphony and Song, and Intimate Opera of Indianapolis. Recent solo engagements include Ball State University’s New Music Festival, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer, 1915 and Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate with Kokomo Symphony, and Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time and Handel’s Messiah with Earlham College.