MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Tales of King

Patricia Racette as Dolores Claiborne; photo by Scott Wall

Dolores Claiborne the new opera by composer Tobias Picker and librettist-poet J.D. McClatchy, opens in just a week at San Francisco Opera. I recently interviewed Picker and McClatchy about their collaboration for my latest SF Opera feature:

The story really matters. That premise may seem self-evident, but there’s a long-standing cliché, at least as far as opera is concerned, that the story is what you have to put up with to get to the music—never mind that Verdi and Puccini obsessed over their choice of subject matter and tormented their librettists whenever it was time to consider a new project for the stage. One of the happy side effects triggered by the American Renaissance in opera that’s been unfolding for the past two to three decades has been to puncture the silly notion that the story is, at best, incidental to the experience.

“For me,” asserts Tobias Picker, “opera is about telling stories in music.”

Read the whole thing here

Filed under: composers, literature, new music, opera

One Response - Comments are closed.

  1. John Marcher says:

    First of all, may I say that when I discovered you began this blog I was quite excited because I have long admired your writing- as I mentioned in a post of my own written last year during the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival, I can usually spot your writing even when I’m not initially paying attention to who wrote the program notes. On the other hand, when I open an opera program I always look for your name and am very pleased when I find it.

    I have little familiarity with Picker’s music and have yet to attend a performance of one of his operas, but I’m keenly interested in seeing Claiborne because I’m interested in American opera (it is a good time for it and give Gockley his due for having such a large role in this fact), I think it important to support new works, and the premise sounds operatically promising (I haven’t read the book nor seen the film). However, after reading your article for the program I’m now quite excited to see and hear this and am thinking I’ll have to attend at least two performances. So thank you for that, and while I’m at it, thank you for the dozens of other articles you’ve written that I’ve enjoyed and from which I’ve learned much about opera over the years.

    I wish you the best success with Memeteria.


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