Amy Tan's Bone-tingling Opera


Run! Don't walk, to purchase ducats for the San Francisco Opera production of The Bonesetter's Daughter, based on the best-selling book by beloved local author Amy Tan. That is, if any tickets (through Oct. 3) remain.

"I'm liking this a lot," enthused SF Opera patron Robert Mailer Anderson, with a slice of wry. "Imagine, a modern work. Here, in San Francisco."

"And set in the old Fountain Court Restaurant!" said Nancy Bechtle, joining the "Brava!" chorus. "As soon as this is over, I'm going to read her book again!"

This first-rate production of magnificent prowess is a heart-wrenching story that deftly blends the drama of dream and reality, tradition versus emigration, and mothers-and-daughters-and-ghosts all served up with a dash of Chinese Grand Opera and film noir.

From the moment the curtains rose the entire audience could sense magic in the air. I laughed! I cried! I sat on the edge of my seat! And then? I snuffled some more (searching my big, old bag for a tissue). In all? Pure dazzlement.

The opera is directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, with music by composer Stewart Wallace and the libretto by Tan, herself. The standout cast includes the stellar trio of daughter (Zheng Cao), mother (Ning Liang) and ghost (Qian Yi), in a knockout performance as "Precious Auntie" channeling splendor-ific Nina Hagen-esque voice and ... hair.

Oh, and the Han Feng costuming? To. Die. For.

This Tuesday night A-series gathering also heralded huzzahs for SF Opera Director David Gockley and SF Opera Board Chairman John Gunn and his wife, Cynthia Gunn, who recently pledged the Opera its largest-ever gift: $40 million smackers.

"I think your chairmanship should be ensured now for some time," teased Joachim Bechtle, as he leaned over the balcony of Box J in greeting Gunn, next door in Box K.

Other tasty tidbits? Jardiniere continues to reign as the pre-opera hot spot for A-list box-nighters. Among the swell set enjoying a pre-curtain nosh or a nibble: Susie and Pat McBaine, Jamie Bowles and pal, Dr. Quita Cruciger, Dianne and Tad Taube, Nicola Miner and Robert Mailer Anderson and across-the-pond culturati, Lizzie Spender and her husband, Sir Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna), in town for his/her appearance tonight (Sept. 18) at Macy's Passort Gala.

The beloved "Dame" shall return to San Francisco (Nov. 20-Jan 4) for his/her show, "Dame Edna – Live and Intimate in Her First Last Tour,'' at the Post Street Theater.

Ah, the fabulous fall art season in our little burg: bone-tingling, indeed, Possums!


Amy Tan

Composer Stewart Wallace on a research trip in China

Director Chen Shi Zheng

Ning Liang as LuLing Liu Young

Qian Yi as Precious Auntie

Zheng Cao as Ruth

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