Dolora Zajick (pronounced ZAH jick) (born 24 March 1952 in Salem, Oregon) is an American mezzo-soprano who specializes in the Verdian repertoire. Zajick is arguably the leading exponent in the dramatic Verdian mezzo-soprano repertoire in the world today and has been described as having “one of the greatest voices in the history of opera”.
Oregon-born but Nevada-raised, Zajick studied voice with Ted Puffer, whom she credits with developing her vocal technique and guiding her in career moves, especially early in her performing career. She graduated from the University of Nevada with 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 debuted with the San Francisco Opera as Azucena in Il trovatore which launched her to international stardom.
In addition to the role of Azucena, Zajick is well known for her interpretations of Amneris and Eboli (in Verdi's Aida and Don Carlo respectively). Zajick has also performed in other Verdi roles, including Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She has also appeared as the Princess in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, Marfa in Moussorgsky's Khovanshchina, Jezibaba in Dvořák's Rusalka, Joan in Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans, Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma. In 2005, she created the role of Elvira Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. In recent years she sang the role of the Old Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and made her Wagnerian debut as Ortrud in Lohengrin with Los Angeles Opera under the baton of James Conlon, a role that she reprised in a widely praised performance in Madrid in 2014
Since her debut in San Francisco, she has sung with such companies as Nevada Opera in Reno, Nevada, Metropolitan Opera in New York, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Arena di Verona, Vienna State Opera, Opera Bastille, La Scala, Teatro Real, Madrid, Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her era including James Conlon, Antonino Fogliani, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Since 2006, in addition to her performing career, Zajick has been a driving force in the work of the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. This was created to address the severe shortage of large, dramatic voices, especially for the great roles of the Verdi, Strauss and Wagner repertoire, by finding, developing, and inspiring the next generation of these unique talents so they may reach the world’s great opera stages. The Institute offers an intensive coaching program to singers with large or unusual voices ages 15–35 at varying levels of vocal development.
- 1987 Verdi: Messa da Requiem Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala Riccardo Muti. EMI
- 1991 Verdi: Aida (Amneris) Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, James Levine. Sony
- 1992 Prokofiev: Ivan the Terrible/Alexander Nevsky (Nevsky) London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Mstislav Rostropovich. Sony
- 1993 Verdi: Don Carlo (Eboli) Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, James Levine. Sony
- 1994 Verdi: La Forza del Destino (Preziosilla) Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti. EMI
- 1994 Verdi: Il Trovatore (Azucena) Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, James Levine. Sony
- 1995 Massenet: Hérodiade (Hérodiade) San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Valery Gergiev. Sony
- 1998 Dvořák: Rusalka (Ježibaba) Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras. Decca
- 1999 Various composers: Dolora Zajick The art of the dramatic mezzo-soprano Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Rosenkrans. Telarc
- Zajick's official website
- The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices
- Interview with Dolora Zajick by Bruce Duffie, January 3, 1989 (Very early in her career)
-  Interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air", 2014
- Email confirmation from Ms. Zajick, dated Jan 24, 2009, as reported on Opera List, at OPERA-L@LISTSERV.BCCLS.ORG
- ”A Mezzo-Soprano Who’s Determined to Do It Her Way, With or Without Star Turns,” Anne Midgette, The New York Times, February 21, 2007, Arts and Music. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/arts/music/21zaji.html)
- "Powerhouse. Mezzo Dolora Zajick Always Delivers," Matthew Gurewitsch, Opera News, March 1996.
- "That Rare Vocal Bird, a True Verdi Mezzo," Walter Price, The New York Times, February 11, 1990, Arts and Leisure.
- “Betting on Not-So-Sure Things: Love and a Trick to Win at Cards,” Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, March 13, 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/arts/music/queen-of-spades-at-the-met-review.html)
- “Los Angeles Opera presents Wagner’s Lohengrin, David Gregson’s Opera West November 29th, 2010. (http://www.operawest.com/?p=123)
- "What is in a name? Lohengrin at the Teatro Real in Madrid", review by Laura Furones (http://bachtrack.com/review-lohengrin-madrid-apr-2014)
- Lohengrin Still Showing Mortier’s Influence, review by Jose M Irurzun(http://seenandheard-international.com/2014/04/lohengrin-still-showing-mortiers-influence/?doing_wp_cron=1399512471.5532879829406738281250)