Considered “a mezzo in a class by herself” (New York Times), Dolora Zajick has been internationally acclaimed as that rare voice type, a true dramatic mezzo-soprano. She has taken on some of the most challenging roles in the repertoire to great acclaim: Azucena in Il trovatore, Amneris in Aida, and Eboli in Don Carlo, Adalgisa in Norma, and Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera. Dolora has appeared on the world’s greatest stages, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Berlin Staatsoper, . . . Opéra National de Paris, among numerous others, as well as at the Salzburg and Orange Festivals, and the mammoth Arena di Verona.
Her expressive vocal palette, seamless technique and ability to communicate even the most complex character enrich such roles as the Countess in Queen of Spades, Ortrud in Lohengrin, Princess de Bouillon in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Marfa in Moussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Jezibaba in Dvorák’s Rusalka, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, and the title roles in Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, Donizetti’s Italian and French versions of La favorite, Dalila in Saint-Saens’s Samson et Dalila, and Massenet’s Hérodiade.
She has appeared in opera and concert with some of the foremost conductors of today, which include James Levine, Anthony Pappano, the late Bruno Bartoletti, James Conlon, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Charles Mackerras, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the late Mstislav Rostropovich.
The signature highlight of Dolora’s 2013-3014 season is the title role in the world première of Dolores Claiborne at the San Francisco Opera. Composed by Tobias Picker, the opera is based on Steven King’s renowned novel of the same name.
Dolora will also mark her 25th anniversary season at the Metropolitan Opera when she returns for performances as Ježibaba in Dvorák’s Rusalka in January 2014. She also appears as Ortrud in a new production of Lohengrin at Madrid’s Teatro Real and as Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica in Barcelona.
In 2012-2013 Dolora took on Verdi’s three premier mezzo roles at the Metropolitan Opera: Azucena in Il Trovatore, Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera and Amneris in Aida. She also appeared in Norma at the Washington National Opera, in Il Trovatore in Houston and reprised her role as Ulrica in a concert version of Un Ballo in Maschera with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra.
Two major role debuts figure prominently in her recent schedule. In 2010, Dolora appeared in her first Wagnerian role as she took on the scheming Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Los Angeles Opera, garnering such acclaim as: “Zajick’s aggressive top fits the role of Ortrud well, and she threw herself into the strong-willed character’s scheming aggression” (Opera Today). Her second major role debut came in 2011 as the Countess in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades of which the New York Times said: “Staying true to the character and the music Ms. Zajick reined in her voice and acted with aching vulnerability, especially in the poignant scene in which, after a ball, the countess sings herself to sleep with the strains of a romantic song from her youth.”
Other recent highlights include appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in Il Trovatore, Aida, both of which were simulcast in HD to theatres around the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD series, Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, Spain, and on tour with Teatro alla Scala in Japan, a return to the Vienna Staatsoper in one of her signature roles as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, to the Opera Festival Arena di Verona as Amneri in Aida, and a series of much-coveted masterclasses at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Dolora’s discography includes recordings of Aida, Il trovatore and Don Carlo on Sony Classical and conducted by James Levine; La forza del destino and the Verdi Requiem with Riccardo Muti on EMI; Alezander Nevsky with Mstislav Rostropovich and Hérodiade with Valery Gergiev, both on Sony Classical; and Rusalka with Sir Charles Mackerras on Decca. On Telarc, her highly acclaimed solo disc entitled Dolora Zajick: The Art of the Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano contains not only the dramatic mezzo-soprano arias for which she is famous, but also coloratura mezzo-soprano arias by Rossini and several dramatic soprano arias.
Her most recent DVDs are the 2011 release of Aida from the Met’s Live in HD series (Decca) and her 2008 performances of Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlo at La Scala (Hardy Classics), about which Opera News exclaimed “’O don fatale,’ a Zajick showstopper…At this point in her vocal life, she can do almost anything.” Also on DVD are her performances as Amneris in Aida and Azucena in Il Trovatore, both from the Metropolitan (Deutsche Grammophon), as well as productions of Aida from Arena di Verona (TDK) and Naples’s Teatro San Carlo (Image Ent). On television and DVD, Dolora has been seen in several Richard Tucker Foundation Galas (having been a winner herself early in her career), on several Pavarotti Plus Galas, and in two anniversary galas from the Metropolitan Opera stage, one commemorating the 25th anniversary of James Levine and the other the 30th anniversary of Luciano Pavarotti.
INSTITUTE FOR YOUNG DRAMATIC VOICES
A recent addition to Dolora’s already challenging schedule is her role as vocal pedagogue and General Director of The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices which she founded in 2006. Born of a desire to train young dramatic singers and help them reach the world stage, the institute is an intensive 3-week summer program of study with leading coaches and voice teachers who understand the nature of large or unusual voices. It takes place annually in Orem, Utah in July.
Oregon-born but Nevada raised, Dolora Zajick studied voice with Ted Puffer, the conductor and former Artistic Director of the Nevada Opera, as well as professor at the Manhattan School of Music. She came to his attention when she joined the chorus of the Nevada Opera, while she was in pre-med at the University of Nevada. She eventually graduated from the University with both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in music, before going to New York for further music studies at the Manhattan School of Music. After winning the Bronze Medal at the 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and being accepted in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, she made her major operatic debut with the San Francisco Opera as Azucena in Il Trovatore which launched her into international stardom.
Dolora Zajick was one of the first recipients of the Opera News Award held in 2005 along with James Conlon, Régine Crespin, Susan Graham, and Plácido Domingo, and in October 2009 was honored by the Giulio Gari Foundation in recognition of her extraordinary operatic career. In 2011 she received the Ortrud Award from the Committee for the Marjorie Lawrence Awards for Opera Excellence and OMTI.