Price: $250.00


Text Box: Composer autographs

Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247


One page autographed draft page from the libretto to the composer’s opera “Dolores Claiborne”, with a series of autograph musical cues in red grease pen and libretto changes in black ballpoint pen in Picker’s hand.  Picker has dedicated the page to his librettist, the late J.D. McClatchy, for Sandy on your birthday 8/12/13 Tb. Picker.


Sold last year within a lot at auction, this is a scarce opportunity to own a piece of the inner workings between a modern opera composer and his librettist.  Autographs like this are typically not available as they are kept together by the composer, or librettist with their papers and later donated, or sold en tact to an institution. (McClatchy’s papers are at Yale, as these were framed, they were sold in his estate auction.) This page was excerpted from a draft of the libretto and given to his librettist as a birthday present slightly a month before the world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 18, 2013.  It is highly unusual to see a page like this available in the marketplace.


Picker (1954 -    ) works on a draft copy of J.D. McClatchy’s (Sandy) (1945-2018)libretto, inserting soprano musical cues which are germane to the words in the libretto.  The first is a variant for Dolores Claiborne (DC), The second the opening note for Thibodeau, a chord for Celina, followed by a two bar passage  for the name Vera Donavan in a recitative which he has marked slow.  There are also alterations to the libretto itself, including some changes to verbiage, the repeat of a name and then a passage I did not kill that bitch, Vera Donovan, I did not push her down that friggin staircase, I don’t have some of that bitch’s blood on my hand (12), just look what that dirty bitch has done to me. 


The opera has an interesting history.  Commissioned by the San Francisco Opera for their 2013 season, Picker negotiated a $1.00 rights agreement with Stephen King the author of the original story.  The story told in the perspective of Dolores Claiborne in the first person was a difficult job for a librettist and Picker turned to the librettist of his first opera, “Emmeline” for the task.  McClatchy was a well known poet and writer who had written a number of successful libretti for both 20th and 21st Century composers.  The original opera was marked with a series of problems.  First, the story takes place at a home on an island in Maine.  Few characters in the plot, it appeared to many during the course of the project that it was better suited as a chamber opera.  The second big problem was that the role of Dolores Claiborne was written for Dolora Zaijick on of the greatest mezzo-soprano, really a contralto of our time.  She pulled out in August a month before the performance, so the score had to be re-written for Patricia Racette, a soprano that the San Francisco Opera decided to use, who was there for performances of “Mefistofele”.  Racette had premiered two of Picker’s earlier works.  When the opera opened, it had mixed reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angles Times and the New York Times.  Essentially, when one breaks it down, the critics all felt that the scored suffered as it was an intimate story done as a grand opera.  Shockingly in 2013, the critics all mentioned the salty language in the score.  The opera stayed dormant until Michael Capasso, the General Director of the then new New York City Opera who had had a long working relationship with Picker from his past opera company suggested they try it as a chamber opera.  The score was reduced in size and instrumentation by Picker and the libretto was revised and reduced by McClatchy, one of the final projects before his death.  The results were critically successful and it premiered on October 22, 2017 to critical acclaim and five sold out performances.  In addition to the initial six performances in San Francisco, and four performances in the co-chamber production with the opera studio at Boston University; it has also be heard in London in 2018, Tulsa and the Mahagonny Ensemble at Vassar College in 2017.


Extremely rare working libretto between a contemporary composer and librettist.