26 August 2013

Dolora Zajick Withdraws From Upcoming World Premiere of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne at San Francisco Opera; Patricia Racette to Sing Title Role

Mezzo Dolora Zajick has withdrawn from the title role in the upcoming world-premiere performances of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne at San Francisco Opera, the company announced today.

Replacing Zajick in the first four performances of Picker and librettist J.D. McClatchy's adaptation of Stephen King's 1992 novel will be soprano Patricia Racette; Catherine Cook will sing the final two performances.

According to a press release issued today by San Francisco Opera, the decision to "effect a change in the casting was mutually reached by Ms. Zajick and San Francisco Opera general director David Gockley."

"I am devastated that I am unable to continue my work on Dolores Claiborne," Zajick said in a statement issued by the company. "The opera proved to be more challenging physically and vocally than I had anticipated and, exacerbated by my knee problems, I feel it is best to withdraw at this point rather than try to push forward. I sincerely wish the cast, the incredible production team and Tobias good luck with the remaining rehearsals and the opening. I will miss being part of it."

Racette, who is currently in San Francisco preparing for the roles of Margherita and Elena in SFO performances of Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele, will sing the title role in Dolores Claiborne performances on September 18, 22, 25 and 28. Racette has created heroines in two of Picker's previous operas: she sang the title role in the 1995 world premiere of his opera Emmeline, and also created the role of Roberta Alden in the 2004 world premiere of An American Tragedy. Mezzo Catherine Cook, who since August 9 has been attending Dolores Claiborne rehearsals as the designated cover for the title role, will sing in the final two performances on October 1 and 4.

"We were aware earlier this summer that there was a problem when Dolora cancelled her engagement at the Orange Festival and had hoped her pain and mobility issues would be less problematic here," San Francisco Opera general director David Gockley said in the press release. "We’ve been working on how to adjust the Dolores Claiborne staging and production in order to find a middle ground, but it ultimately proved to be too physically demanding. This decision for Dolora to withdraw from the project was mutually agreed upon and she regrets having to bow out at this late date. She has also expressed her utmost concern for the remaining rehearsal process and ultimate world premiere. I look forward to welcoming Dolora back to the War Memorial Opera House stage in future seasons and wish her a full recovery. […] I am very grateful to Patricia Racette for stepping in at this late date in the rehearsal period and agreeing to take on this very demanding role, particularly while she is here performing in Mefistofele." spacer

More information can be found at San Francisco Opera and in "The Claiborne Case" in the current issue of OPERA NEWS.

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