The World Premiere of Dolores Claiborne, An Opera by Tobias Picker

Images by Vasna Wilson for Drew Altizer Photography

Libretto by J. D. McClatchy
Based on the novel Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
By arrangement with Andrew Welch · Commissioned by San Francisco Opera

Desperate. Passionate. Trapped. Dolores Claiborne is willing to do whatever it takes to save herself and her daughter—even if that means taking a life. One of the most compelling characters to emerge from the imagination of Stephen King, the feisty Maine housekeeper is a natural fit for opera—and specifically for the dark theatricality of American composer Tobias Picker, who “embraces opera as a populist art form” and “does so with undeniable skill” (The New York Times). Memorably played by Kathy Bates in the 1995 movie, Dolores was sung by Patricia Racette (Sep 18, 22, 25, 28), “an artist at the peak of her powers” (Opera News) and Catherine Cook (Oct 1, 4), a singer who knows how to “delight with a treasure chest of voice and gesture” (Bay Area Reporter). This chilling work featured a libretto by poet J. D. McClatchy. “Expert conductor” George Manahan is at the podium (Financial Times) and the “imaginative” and “inspired” James Robinson directed (The Wall Street Journal).

“The role of Dolores is a kind of American Tosca,” says composer Tobias Picker. “She is forced to make cataclysmic choices to save the one she loves.” Adds librettist J.D. McClatchy: “She is not your average operatic heroine. She is complex: not always likeable, but always sympathetic. It was a challenge but an absolute delight to help bring her to life on stage.”

Since 2006, San Francisco Opera General Director has commissioned seven world premieres: Appomattox by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton, Bonesetter’s Daughter by Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan; Heart of a Soldier by Christopher Theofanidis and Donna DiNovelli; The Secret Garden by Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison; The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo; Dolores Claiborne by Tobias Picker and J.D. McClatchy; and upcoming in June 2015 La Ciociara by Marco Tutino and Fabio Ceresa.

The world premiere of Dolores Claiborne is made possible, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Koret Foundation, and Tad and Dianne Taube. Additional support is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 The Cast and VIP Guests During the World Premiere