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Oscar Hammerstein
Librettist

Biography
Oscar Hammerstein II was born in 1895 in New York City. His father, William, was a theater manager and for many years director of Hammerstein's Victoria, the most popular vaudeville theater of its day. His uncle, Arthur Hammerstein, was a successful Broadway producer and his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein, a famous opera impresario.

Hammerstein started writing lyrics for the Columbia University Varsity shows while studying law. His earliest works included musical comedies written with a Columbia undergraduate seven years his junior named Richard Rodgers. (The 1920 Varsity show, Fly with Me, was composed by Rodgers with lyrics by both Hammerstein and a fellow classmate of his named Lorenz Hart.) Withdrawing from Columbia Law School after his second year to pursue a career in theater, Hammerstein took a job with his uncle as an assistant stage manager.

In 1919 Hammerstein's first play, The Light, was produced by his uncle Arthur; it lasted four performances. Undaunted, he continued to write both lyrics and librettos, principally with Otto Harbach as his collaborating author. His first success – with Harbach, Vincent Youmans, and Herbert Stothart – was Wildflower in 1923. Hammerstein found his niche with some of the greatest composers of his day, breathing new life into the moribund art form of operetta with such classics as Rose-Marie (music by Rudolf Friml), The Desert Song (Sigmund Romberg), The New Moon (Romberg), and Song of the Flame (George Gershwin). With Jerome Kern, Hammerstein wrote eight musicals, including Sweet Adeline, Music in the Air, and their masterwork, Show Boat.* (Titles marked with asterisks are available on Sony.) His last musical before embarking on an exclusive partnership with Richard Rodgers was Carmen Jones,* the highly acclaimed 1943 all-black revision of Georges Bizet's tragic opera Carmen.

During the years that Hammerstein was redefining the terms of operetta, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were challenging the accepted norms of musical comedy with shows that set new standards for wit, sophistication, and innovation. The Rodgers & Hammerstein partnership began with Oklahoma!* (1943). Like Hammerstein's Show Boat and Rodgers & Hart's Pal Joey,* the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical was a ground-breaking milestone, blending musical comedy and operetta into a whole new genre – the musical play. Oklahoma! was also the start of the most successful partnership in Broadway history and was followed by Carousel,* Allegro,* South Pacific,* The King And I,* Me and Juliet,* Pipe Dream,* Flower Drum Song,* and The Sound of Music.* Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote one musical specifically for the big screen, State Fair, and one for television, Cinderella.* Collectively, their musicals earned thirty-four Tony Awards®, 15 Academy Awards®, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Grammy® Awards.

Oscar Hammerstein II was a member of the board of directors of many professional organizations, including the Dramatists Guild and the Screen Writers' Guild. He received many personal honors and awards, including five honorary degrees, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Academy Awards® and five Tony Awards®.

His last musical was The Sound of Music,written with Richard Rodgers in 1959; his last song was “Edelweiss,” written for that musical during its Boston tryout. Oscar Hammerstein II died at his farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on the morning of August 23, 1960.

In 1995 Hammerstein's centennial was celebrated worldwide with commemorative recordings, books, concerts, and an award-winning PBS special, “Some Enchanted Evening.” The ultimate tribute came the following season, when Oscar Hammerstein II had three musicals playing on Broadway simultaneously: Show Boat (1995 Tony Award® winner, Best Musical Revival); The King and I (1996 Tony Award® winner, Best Musical Revival); and State Fair (1996 Tony Award® nominee for Best Score.)

OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
Click here to learn more about OPERA America granting programs.
GRANT NAMEYEAR
Opera for a New America 1991


Productions
Click company name to view productions details.
COMPANYTITLEDATES
Pensacola OperaCarousel3/17/2023 - 3/19/2023
Arizona OperaThe Sound of Music3/3/2023 - 3/12/2023
Glimmerglass FestivalThe Sound of Music7/8/2022 - 8/19/2022
Virginia OperaThe Sound of Music5/13/2022 - 5/15/2022
Indianapolis OperaCarousel4/29/2022 - 5/1/2022
Central City OperaCarousel7/3/2021 - 8/1/2021
Seagle FestivalOklahoma!8/14/2019 - 8/17/2019
Glimmerglass FestivalShow Boat7/6/2019 - 8/24/2019
Opera San Luis ObispoOklahoma!5/12/2018 - 5/13/2018
Indianapolis OperaSouth Pacific3/23/2018 - 3/25/2018
Gulf Coast SymphonyOklahoma!2/24/2018 - 2/25/2018
Opera IdahoOklahoma!8/18/2017 - 8/21/2017
Calgary Opera AssociationSouth Pacific8/10/2017 - 8/10/2017
Charlottesville OperaOklahoma!7/29/2017 - 8/5/2017
Glimmerglass FestivalOklahoma!7/8/2017 - 8/22/2017
Opera on the AvalonThe Sound of Music2/17/2017 - 2/18/2017
Annapolis OperaSouth Pacific11/5/2016 - 11/6/2016
Opera RoanokeSouth Pacific10/7/2016 - 10/9/2016
Opera IdahoSouth Pacific8/19/2016 - 8/21/2016
Charlottesville OperaSouth Pacific7/23/2016 - 7/30/2016
St. Petersburg Opera CompanySouth Pacific7/1/2016 - 7/10/2016
Cedar Rapids OperaSouth Pacific6/16/2016 - 6/19/2016
Kentucky OperaShow Boat2/19/2016 - 2/21/2016
Finger Lakes OperaA Grand Night for Singing8/1/2015 - 8/1/2015
Lyric Opera of ChicagoCarousel4/10/2015 - 5/3/2015
Opera IdahoThe King and I8/15/2014 - 8/17/2014
Central City OperaThe Sound of Music8/3/2014 - 8/10/2014
Asheville Lyric OperaSouth Pacific7/7/2014 - 7/20/2014
Portland OperaShow Boat5/1/2014 - 5/9/2015
Opera OmahaCinderella4/4/2014 - 4/27/2014
Lyric Opera of ChicagoThe Sound of Music4/4/2014 - 5/11/2014
Piedmont OperaSouth Pacific3/14/2014 - 3/14/2014
Pacific Opera VictoriaSouth Pacific11/11/2013 - 11/23/2013
Central City OperaShow Boat8/7/2013 - 8/11/2013
Charlottesville OperaCarousel8/5/2013 - 8/11/2013
Opera IdahoThe Sound of Music7/19/2013 - 7/21/2013
Virginia OperaCarousel5/5/2013 - 5/19/2013
Opera IdahoOklahoma!7/13/2012 - 7/15/2012
Central City OperaOklahoma!6/6/2012 - 8/10/2012
Lyric Opera of ChicagoShow Boat3/17/2012 - 3/17/2012
Anchorage OperaThe Sound of Music3/3/2012 - 4/7/2012
Charlottesville OperaThe King and I8/7/2011 - 8/7/2011
Opera IdahoCarousel7/15/2011 - 7/17/2011
Anchorage OperaSouth Pacific4/2/2011 - 4/10/2011
Seagle FestivalCarousel8/8/2010 - 8/14/2010
Opera IdahoSouth Pacific7/7/2010 - 7/11/2010
University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of MusicWonderful Town11/11/2007 - 11/15/2007
Charlottesville OperaThe Sound of Music7/7/2007 - 8/11/2007
Mercury Opera RochesterShow Boat6/2/2007 - 6/6/2007
Opera ModestoCarousel11/11/2006 - 11/18/2006
Skylight Music TheatreSouth Pacific11/11/2006 - 12/22/2006
Pittsburgh Festival OperaCarmen Jones10/10/2006 - 11/17/2006
Seagle FestivalOklahoma!6/6/2006 - 7/7/2006
LOOK Musical TheatreSouth Pacific6/6/2006 - 7/15/2006
Lyric Opera San DiegoThe King and I3/1/2006 - 4/1/2006
University of Colorado BoulderThe King and I7/1/2005 - 7/31/2005
Mobile OperaShow Boat1/1/2005 - 1/6/2005
New York City OperaCinderella11/1/2004 - 11/20/2004
Tulsa OperaThe Sound of Music9/1/2004 - 9/12/2004
University of Colorado BoulderA Grand Night for Singing7/1/2004 - 7/31/2004
Skylight Music TheatreA Grand Night for Singing7/1/2004 - 8/1/2004
Natchez Opera FestivalShow Boat4/1/2004 - 5/1/2004
Edmonton OperaSouth Pacific4/1/2004 - 4/29/2004
Opera BostonSouth Pacific8/1/2003 - 8/10/2003
Charlottesville OperaSouth Pacific7/1/2003 - 8/1/2003
Bay View Music FestivalThe Sound of Music7/1/2003 - 7/31/2003
Capitol Opera SacramentoSouth Pacific9/8/2002 - 9/30/2002
Bay View Music FestivalSouth Pacific7/7/2002 - 7/27/2002
Utah Festival OperaThe Sound of Music7/7/2002 - 7/20/2002
Augusta OperaOklahoma!9/9/2001 - 9/15/2001
Utah Festival OperaSouth Pacific7/7/2001 - 7/28/2001
Mercury Opera RochesterShow Boat1/21/2001 - 1/21/2001
Gold Coast OperaThe Sound of Music11/11/2000 - 11/11/2000
Charlottesville OperaOklahoma!7/7/2000 - 8/12/2000
Wichita State University Opera TheatreThe Desert Song3/3/2000 - 3/12/2000
Light Opera Of New YorkRose-Marie8/8/1999 - 8/29/1999
Utah Festival OperaCarousel7/7/1999 - 7/30/1999
Opera ModestoShow Boat4/4/1999 - 4/25/1999
Light Opera Of New YorkThe Desert Song1/1/1999 - 12/26/1998
Skylight Music TheatreThe King and I11/11/1998 - 12/19/1998
Gold Coast OperaOklahoma!11/1/1998 - 11/21/1998
Virginia OperaOklahoma!4/4/1997 - 4/25/1997
Light Opera Of New YorkWonderful Town12/1/1996 - 12/30/1996
Commonwealth OperaSouth Pacific11/1/1996 - 11/16/1996
Jefferson Performing Arts SocietyShow Boat9/9/1996 - 10/10/1996
Central City OperaThe New Moon7/7/1996 - 8/10/1996
Virginia OperaCarousel4/4/1996 - 4/13/1996
Gold Coast OperaThe Desert Song4/1/1996 - 4/19/1996
Opera ModestoCarousel3/3/1996 - 3/31/1996
New York City OperaCinderella11/9/1995 - 11/18/1995
Commonwealth OperaShow Boat11/1/1995 - 11/11/1995
Augusta OperaA Grand Night for Singing9/9/1995 - 9/16/1995
Charlottesville OperaThe King and I7/7/1995 - 8/12/1995
Boheme Opera New JerseyCarousel1/1/1995 - 1/28/1995
The Cleveland OperaCinderella12/1/1994 - 12/17/1994
New York City OperaWonderful Town11/1/1994 - 11/19/1994
Charlottesville OperaThe Sound of Music7/1/1994 - 8/1/1994
Encompass New Opera TheatreThe Desert Song4/1/1994 - 4/24/1994
Opera MemphisSouth Pacific3/1/1994 - 3/22/1994
New York City OperaCinderella11/1/1993 - 11/20/1993
Gold Coast OperaShow Boat10/1/1993 - 10/20/1993
Charlottesville OperaCarousel7/1/1993 - 8/1/1993
Central City OperaRose-Marie7/1/1993 - 8/1/1993
Fargo-Moorhead OperaThe Desert Song4/1/1993 - 4/17/1993
University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of MusicCarousel11/1/1992 - 11/18/1992
Augusta OperaCarousel9/1/1992 - 9/16/1992
Skylight Music TheatreOklahoma!9/1/1992 - 10/1/1992
New York City OperaThe Desert Song9/1/1992 - 9/26/1992
Charlottesville OperaOklahoma!7/1/1992 - 8/1/1992
The Cleveland OperaThe Sound of Music5/1/1992 - 5/17/1992
Calgary Opera AssociationCarousel3/1/1992 - 3/31/1992
Mobile OperaCarousel3/1/1992 - 3/29/1992
Nashville OperaCarousel3/1/1992 - 4/1/1992
Minnesota OperaCarousel11/1/1991 - 11/23/1991
Gold Coast OperaSouth Pacific11/1/1991 - 11/16/1991
Charlottesville OperaSouth Pacific7/1/1991 - 8/1/1991
Portland OperaCarousel6/1/1991 - 6/22/1991


Artist Information

All information is derived from OPERA America's Season Schedule of Performances and titles databases which date back to 1991. OPERA America is constantly updating this data. If you feel that a work or an artist has been omitted or that information is incorrect, please use the linked forms below.
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