OKLAHOMA! Celeste Holm's vocal score for Oklahoma! inscribed by Richard Rodgers.
New York: Williamson Music, 1943. First edition of the vocal score, inscribed on the front blank "Xmas 1943/For my heroine, Celeste/with love and gratitude/Richard Rodgers." Original green cloth, the cover blind ruled and lettered in gilt "Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein IInd" to the upper corner and at center: "OKLAHOMA! Vocal Score." 12 x 9 inches; 208 pp., a few pencil notations to I Cain't Say No. Minor bubbling to cloth cover, lightly rubbed and corners just exposed, a pen trial of the word 'For' just above inscription is likely in the hand of Oscar Hammerstein.
An important presentation copy of the vocal score of Oklahoma! from composer Richard Rodgers to Celeste Holm, star of the original production in the role of Ado Annie. Opening on 31 March 1943, Oklahoma! was an instant sensation, particularly Ms. Holm's performance of I Cain't Say No, and an encore added in Boston previews only added to its popularity. Besides the music and lyrics written by the new writing team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the first production of Oklahoma! was choreographed by Agnes de Mille, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and cast by Theresa Helburn, co-founder of the New York Theatre Guild. Of the opening night, the New York Times wrote "Mr. Rodgers's scores never lack for grace, but seldom have they been so well integrated as 'Oklahoma!' He has turned out waltzes, love songs, comic songs and a title number which the State in question would do well to seize as an anthem forthwith." By the date of this inscription at Christmas 1943, Oklahoma! was a smash hit with rows at the St. James Theatre reserved every night for uniformed servicemen and the show itself was at the center of American patriotism during the heaviest years of World War II. Ultimately, the show ran to 2,212 performances from 1943-48.
This also may be a special presentation binding as we do not trace another with similar gilt lettering. Signed presentation items from the opening year of Oklahoma! are scarce and this inscribed score is of the highest association.
C The Celeste Holm Collection
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