Dolora Zajick

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Dolora Zajick (pronounced ZAH jick[1][dubious ]) (born 24 March 1952) is an American mezzo-soprano opera singer who specializes in the Verdian repertoire. Zajick is perhaps 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”.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Salem, Oregon, but raised in Nevada, Zajick was a pre-med student at the University of Nevada, Reno and member of the Nevada Opera chorus, when her talent was first noticed. She studied voice with Ted Puffer, conductor of Nevada Opera, whom she credits with developing her vocal technique[3] and guiding her in career moves, especially early in her performing career.[4] 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. In 1982 she won the Bronze Medal at the 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the only non-Soviet medalist that year and the first American musician to place in the contest in over twelve years. After this and graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, she was offered a place in the San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, she debuted with the San Francisco Opera as Azucena in Il Trovatore in 1986, which launched her to international acclaim.


Zajick, performing one of her signature roles, the gypsy woman Azucena in Il Trovatore, Berlin, July 2016

In addition to the role of Azucena, Zajick is well known for her interpretations of Amneris and Eboli (in Verdi's Aida and Don Carlos 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 Cilèa's Adriana Lecouvreur, Marfa in Moussorgsky's Khovanshchina, Ježibaba in Dvořák's Rusalka, Joan of Arc in Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans, Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma, Dalila in Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, the title role in Massenet's Hérodiade and Léonor in Donizetti's La favorite. 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, while continuing to sing her established repertoire, she has added the roles of the Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades,[5] La Zia Principessa in Puccini's Suor Angelica, made her Wagner debut as Ortrud in Lohengrin [6][7][8] and her Poulenc debut as Madame de Croissy in Dialogues des Carmélites[9]).

Since her debut with San Francisco Opera, Zajick has sung in most of the great opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Teatro alla Scala Milan, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Arena di Verona, Vienna Staatsoper, Opera Bastille, Teatro Real, Madrid, Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival and the Choregies d'Orange festival. 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. The Institute 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 3-week coaching program each summer to singers with large or unusual voices ages 15–35 at varying levels of vocal development. Notable contemporary singers who have received training through the Institute include Rachel Willis-Sorensen and Issachah Savage.


In August, 2014 Zajick’s first public composition, an opera scene titled “Roads to Zion” was premiered at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, CA. The work was written for performance during the celebrations by the Carmelite Order of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila. It sets a text derived from Psalm 84 and is in three parts: 1) “A Soul Yearns”, 2) “A Soul Takes Flight” and 3) “A Soul Returns”. The first and third parts contain dialogues between soloists and choir, while the middle movement is purely instrumental.

Reviewers praised the “accomplished vocal and instrumental writing ... that delivered its message in a resonant, almost beatific, glow”[10] and noted that “this music created an intense experience. Its impressive orchestration and unified architectural design made it a most fascinating piece”.[11]

A second work, "Birdsong", was premiered by Chanticleer in March 2015 at the 2nd National Youth Choral Festival in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall. This piece is a setting of a poem from the anthology I Never Saw Another Butterfly.




External links[edit]


  1. ^ Email confirmation from Ms. Zajick, dated Jan 24, 2009, as reported on Opera List, at OPERA-L@LISTSERV.BCCLS.ORG
  2. ^ ”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. (
  3. ^ "Powerhouse. Mezzo Dolora Zajick Always Delivers," Matthew Gurewitsch, Opera News, March 1996.
  4. ^ "That Rare Vocal Bird, a True Verdi Mezzo," Walter Price, The New York Times, February 11, 1990, Arts and Leisure.
  5. ^ “Betting on Not-So-Sure Things: Love and a Trick to Win at Cards,” Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, March 13, 2011. (
  6. ^ “Los Angeles Opera presents Wagner’s Lohengrin, David Gregson’s Opera West November 29th, 2010. (
  7. ^ "What is in a name? Lohengrin at the Teatro Real in Madrid", review by Laura Furones (
  8. ^ Lohengrin Still Showing Mortier’s Influence, review by Jose M Irurzun(
  9. ^ (
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  11. ^ (