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A rare and important set of six 12" acetate recordings of Audrey Hepburn's original vocals for the 1964 Warner Bros. production My Fair Lady comprising:
- A single sided acetate inscribed Loverly and Loverly – Reprise, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand “Loverly” & “Reprise” a.H. and dated 12 July, 1963
- A double sided acetate inscribed I Could Have Danced PM 10A – 6, I Could Have Danced PM 10A-4, and I Could Have Danced PM 10A – 12, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand #877 “Danced” Takes 4-6-12 A.H. and dated 16 July, 1963
- A single sided acetate inscribed Without You YP3278, and Without You 2nd Alt. YP3280
- A double sided acetate inscribed Without You A.H. Revised YP3278A and Show Me A.H. Revised YP3289A, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand AH remakes, Show Me, Without You
- A single sided acetate inscribed Fair Lady “Loverly” with voice replacement, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand AH ‘Loverly’ Revised and dated 24 July, 1963
- A double sided acetate inscribed Just You Wait YP3284 and Just You Wait Reprise YP3286, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand ‘Just You Wait’ & Reprise (A.H) and dated 30 July, 1963;
together with a double sided acetate inscribed Loverly w/clix, Loverly Reprise w/clix and Loverly Reprise w/o clix, featuring vocals by Marni Nixon, the brown paper sleeve inscribed in an unknown hand Loverly Reprise, For Miss Hepburn and dated 8 August, 1963; accompanied by a CD recording of each track
Each: 12 ¼ x 12 ¼ in. (31.1 x 31.1 cm.)
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Adrian Hume-Sayer
Adrian Hume-Sayer

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Lot Essay

In taking on the role of Eliza, Audrey had been determined to perform all her own songs, having previously demonstrated her talents in Funny Face and Breakfast At Tiffany's, so rehearsed with a singing coach for up to six hours a day in preparation. Director George Cukor said to reporters When she began it was an agony for that girl to sing. But she is not afraid to make an ass of herself. She has the courage to do it, do it wretchedly at first, but do it. However, Audrey became nervously aware of circulating rumours that she would be dubbed, asking Are you going to use my voice for songs at all? According to Cecil Beaton's diary entries, recording began with music director André Previn on 4 July, 1963, who tried his best to coax the best performance out of her. He later noted to biographer Barry Paris Audrey's voice was perfectly adequate for a living room... But this was the movie to end all movies, with six giant surround speakers. Even so, I was of the opinion that if you had bought Audrey Hepburn to play it, so she didn't sing so hot - it wasn't such a crime. But you can imagine how Lerner and Loewe felt...

Top dubber Marni Nixon was brought in, yet no one was clear on who would be singing what. Nixon later explained We knew in some numbers, she was going to start, and I was going to carry on... I would record and then she would record her portion of those songs... Later they decided it just wouldn't match up... So they threw out her track. No one had the guts to tell Audrey. Previn recalls It became a passing the buck thing... finally Cukor had to go. She was very hurt because she felt that if she had taken Julie Andrews place and then couldn't sing, it would reflect very badly on her. But she never said a word. Previn tried to cut in her vocals as much as he could, revealing I used more than they were aware of at the time. But I couldn't get away with too much. Audrey's original acetate recordings, variously dated from 12 - 30 July, would appear to span this period of uncertainty. Audrey can be heard at the end of take 4 of I Could Have Danced questioning Was that too light? The vocals, with orchestral backing, are fully Audrey until 24 July, when we find Nixon taking over for the final 29 seconds on the recording "Loverly" with voice replacement, perhaps a trial in matching up the vocals. By 8 August, the recording titled Loverly w/clix is all Nixon, just in time for the start of principal photography on 13 August.

Biographer Barry Paris suggests it was all a charade, that Cukor and Warner had never seriously considered using Hepburn's voice at all. Post-production executive Rudy Fehr corroborates, admitting they allowed Audrey to make ...a couple of tracks for her own satisfaction. The press soon found out that Audrey had been dubbed in the part and drummed up a scandal before the film had even been released, suggesting it added insult to the injury of depriving Andrews of her rightful role. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper declared that by not singing, Audrey Hepburn gives only half a performance. On the promotional tour, Audrey would diplomatically explain that she had pre-recorded all of Eliza's songs, but the final result is a blend. Today, the disparity between the two voices seems remarkable and almost ludicrous. Although not so technically proficient, Audrey's original vocals are certainly more credible and authentic to the character, full of nuance and emotion. Thought lost, conservators discovered umpteenth-generation tracks of Audrey doing the worst takes possible, almost like a blooper reel while restoring the film for DVD release. They were able to piece together two complete songs, Wouldn't It Be Loverly and Show Me, which were released as special features on the fully restored DVD in 1994. The two released tracks are not identical to the recordings here, and to the best of our knowledge no other original vocals have been officially released. Biographer Donald Spoto believed all other recordings to be lost or destroyed.

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