Dolores Claiborne: An Accident Can Be A Theatre Junkie’s Best Friend.
This is a bit of a stretch I must say. What I mean, is that today, I’ll be giving myself a good and thrilling stretch of my theatrical viewing muscles on a rainy Sunday afternoon courtesy of the New York City Opera. I rarely venture to the opera, to be honest, not because I don’t like it particularly, but because I’m not sure it sits in my ears as well as how musical theater can infect my soul. But I was curious, you see; an opera, based on the Stephen King novel, with a beloved movie version of the tale starring the powerful Kathy Bates sitting in our collective memories, definitely tweaked my interest. So what would it be like to see the opera, Dolores Claiborne, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy and composed by Tobias Picker, both of whom are well regarded within the opera community? I have been craving as of late for an emotionally moving musical experience, and I haven’t seen anything like that in months. The last one, might have been when I revisited the glorious Come From Away over Labor Day weekend with my visiting UK friend, Jason, and I cried as I knew I would. I also know, looking forward, that I’ll be getting my fix next weekend when I see the incredible The Band’s Visit make it’s Broadway debut, and I can’t wait. Having seen this beautifully moving piece of musical theater when it was at the Atlantic Theater last season (winning the 2017 Obie Award for Musical Theatre, three Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical), I will be so ready to be swept away by seductive voice of Katrina Lenk and the smell of Jasmine floating in the air. But at this moment in time, the craving is strong and I am in need. The musical theater season on Broadway and beyond has yet to really start gathering musical steam, but I do see it approaching. Until than, I am going to venture out of my comfort zone, and try some alternatives. This coming week, I’ll be seeing some ballet (The Red Shoes at New York City Center) and today, I am seeing the World Premiere of the chamber adaptation of the opera (arranged by Mr. Picker, City Opera‘s Composer in Residence), Dolores Claiborne in the very intimate theater A at 59E59 Theaters.
For those of us (the very few) that don’t know the tale of Dolores Claiborne, the Stephen King novel that focused on the strained relationship between a mother and her daughter on a remote island in Maine both in 1962 and three decades later. Dolores, the stern and hard-working mother has been accused of murdering the wealthy elderly woman, Vera Donovan, whom she has looked after for over forty years. She was found standing over the dead woman’s body, and because of the town’s suspicion of Dolores and the questionable death of her abusive drunk of a husband years earlier, the police are determined this time to place blame on Dolores. Thirty years prior, Dolores with the encouragement from Vera, and the help of an eclipse, carried out an act of maternal protection, mostly for the sake of her young daughter, Selena, who has never been able to forgive her for. The angry and traumatized Selena, now a big city reporter (in the opera, she becomes a lawyer), returns to the remote island in Maine, a place she has tried to escape from, to defend her mother against the charges regarding Vera, and help get her released. But this relationship is so strained and damaged that even this act of compassion and bonding might not be able to repair the deep-seated wounds from the past. (for the full review, click here)