The Voice: Dolora Zajick

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Dolora Zajick 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 made her Wagnerian debut as Ortrud in Lohengrin with Los Angeles Opera under the baton of James Conlon, and as The Old Countess in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades also at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 2012, San Francisco Opera announced that in the fall of 2013, Zajick would star in the title role of Tobias Picker and J.D. McClatchy's opera Dolores Claiborne, based on Steven King's novel of the same name.

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, and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her era including James Conlon, 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.

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