San Francisco Opera: The Bonesetter's Daughter

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Pictured: Zheng Cao (Ruth Young Kamen) & Qian Yi (Precious Auntie)

Credit: Terrence McCarthy

Classical 91.5 is broadcast San Fransisco Opera's presentation of The Bonesetter's Daughter on Saturday, August 22 at 1 p.m. This new opera by Stewart Wallace is based on Amy Tan’s best-selling novel of the same name with a libretto by the acclaimed author. The Bonesetter’s Daughter tells the story of a troubled Chinese-American woman who, escorted by a ghost, travels into her immigrant mother’s past and discovers what they share in their bones through heredity, history and the transformative power of love. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and conducted by Steven Sloane, the opera will feature Chinese-
born artists Zheng Cao, Ning Liang, Qian Yi, Hao Jiang Tian and Wu Tong. 
Over the last three years, Wallace and Tan have traveled together throughout China attending funerals in small villages and exploring the music of ethnic minorities and Chinese opera in its many 1 regional forms. Many of the artists they met along the way are now a part of The Bonesetter’s Daughter.  The opera features a Beijing Opera percussion section, led by master percussionist Li Zhonghua, and two suonas, a Chinese double-reeded trumpet, one of which is played by Beijing rock singer and master wind player Wu Tong, who also sings multiple roles. At the heart of the opera are three generations of mothers and daughters, performed by Zheng Cao as Ruth Young Kamen, Ning Liang as her immigrant mother and Qian Yi, the star of Chen Shi-Zheng's The Peony Pavilion, as Precious Auntie. Qian Yi is recognized as one of the finest artists working today in the ancient KunJu style of Chinese opera. Chang the Coffin Maker, the source of all the family's darkest secrets and traumas, is played by Hao Jiang Tian. The cast also includes baritone James Maddalena as Ruth’s husband Art Kamen and mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook as Ruth’s mother-in-law Arlene Kamen.   
Conductor Steven Sloane, a long-time Wallace collaborator, makes his Company debut with this production. Acclaimed director Chen Shi-Zheng, well known for his historic 1998 Lincoln Center Festival production of The Peony Pavilion and most recently for his Monkey: Journey to the West, will incorporate ten members of the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe of China, who flip, fly and create emotional tension through physical action. The production features sets by Walt Spangler, costumes by renowned fashion designer
Han Feng, lighting by Scott Zielinski, video projections by Leigh Haas, and sound design by Mark Grey. The Bonesetter’s Daughter will be sung in English and is commissioned by San Francisco Opera.