Yesterday San Francisco Opera (SFO) announced a change in the principal casting for the upcoming world premiere of Dolores Claiborne. This opera, based on the 1993 novel by Stephen King, was composed on a commission from SFO by Tobias Picker, with a libretto by J. D. McClatchy. The title role was to be taken by mezzo Dolora Zajick; and SFO had prepared a set of promotional photographs in which Zajick bore a striking resemblance to Kathy Bates, who starred in Taylor Hackford’s 1995 film based on King’s novel.
Unfortunately, Zajick has now withdrawn from the project. This decision was reached mutually by Zajick and SFO General Director David Gockley. Zajick issued the following statement:
I am devastated that I am unable to continue my work on Dolores Claiborne. 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.
For the first four performances of Dolores Claiborne, the title role will now be taken by Patricia Racette. Racette is currently in San Francisco preparing for the dual roles of Marguerite and Elena in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, the first opera in the coming SFO season. These will be the performances at 7:30 p.m. on September 18 and September 25, 2 p.m. on September 22, and 8 p.m. on September 28. At the two performances in October, at 8 p.m. on October 1 and October 4, the title role will be taken by Catherine Cook, the designated role cover, who has been attending rehearsals since August 9 and sang the role in an early workshop in December of 2012. Racette will continue her plans to sing all eight of the regularly scheduled performances of Mefistofele.
Tickets for Dolores Claiborne are priced from $23 to $385 and may be purchased through the event page for this production. They may also be purchased at the SFO Box Office (in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House) or by calling 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It is open for telephone orders only on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition Standing Room tickets are available at the Box Office for $10, cash only, going on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. Finally, because the SFO season has not yet begun, orders are still being taken for subscriptions through a Web page that describes the full variety of subscription series for which tickets may be ordered.