San Francisco Opera to Premiere 'Dolores Claiborne'
This September San Francisco Opera will present the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne, a new opera based on the novel by Stephen King and marking the Company debuts of American composer Tobias Picker and librettist J. D. McClatchy. The compelling story of a ferocious and independent woman willing to do whatever it takes to save herself and her daughter, Dolores Claiborne will star mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in the title role alongside Elizabeth Futral as 'Vera Donovan' and Susannah Biller as Claiborne’s daughter 'Selena St. George'. San Francisco Opera veterans Wayne Tigges and Greg Fedderly will portray Dolores Claiborne’s abusive husband 'Joe St. George' and 'Detective Thibodeau'.
Picker’s opera reconceives award-winning author Stephen King’s 1993 novel Dolores Claiborne for the operatic stage. The book was previously adapted into a feature film starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judy Parfitt in 1995. Spanning a time period from the spring of 1950 to the winter of 1992, the opera takes place on a working class island in rural Maine and follows its title character as she fiercely deals with the terrible adversity she is dealt by those around her.
The role of Dolores Claiborne was written as a tour de force for renowned American mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick. A frequent artist with the Metropolitan Opera and major opera houses around the world, she is described by The New York Times as “a mezzo in a class by herself.” A graduate of the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program, Zajick has appeared with San Francisco Opera many times over the course of her over 30-year career, including as Azucena in Il Trovatore (1986, 1994, and 2003); Amneris in Aida (1989, 2010); her first Marfa in Khovanshchina (1990); her first assumption of the title role of Hérodiade (1994); and the title role of The Maid of Orleans (2006).
Dolora Zajick comments: “Playing strong women is something I have done for my entire career and Dolores Claiborne is another such woman. Accused of a murder she did not commit, she relives the one she did commit in order to save her daughter. Her act of desperation after discovering her husband had sexually molested their daughter was a dilemma faced by numerous women at a time when there were few avenues for help. Tobias Picker has created an opera that allows me to develop the character of Dolores Claiborne—to show her as a woman of her time with a personality that gained in strength when faced with adversity.”
Sung in English with English supertitles, the six performances of Dolores Claiborne are scheduled for September 18 (7:30 p.m.), September 22 (2 p.m.), September 25 (7:30 p.m.), September 28 (8 p.m.), October 1 (8 p.m.) and October 4 (8 p.m.), 2013.
Tickets for performances of Dolores Claiborne at the War Memorial Opera House are priced from $23 to $385 and may be purchased at sfopera.com or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office [301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street), or by phone at (415) 864-3330] beginning July 8. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only.