04 October 2008


They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." That what is beautiful to one person is insignificant to another, and I would agree that that is true in many cases.

But, I would also make the argument that there are some things which are universally beautiful. Why is that? What is it about a certain snapshot, person or event that can touch many people, and not just a few?

I had the opportunity to attend The Bonesetter's Daughter at San Francisco Opera last week. Based on the Amy Tan novel of the same name, this brand new opera was commissioned by the SFO and expertly incorporated elements of traditional Chinese opera and theater with western-style opera music. The result was phenominal. Going into the evening, I was a little skeptical (as I am wont to be where modern opera is concerned), but after the prologue, I was hooked.

I don't want to or feel the need to go into a play-by-play of the entire opera. What I will comment on is the very end. The last scene was between the main character - a grown woman - and her mother. In the mother's last earthly moments, mother and daughter finally had a perfect understanding of each other, and all that had passed between them and before them was made complete, redeemed and laid to rest. It was a beautiful moment, both in subject and musically. The singing was ethereal, the music heartbreaking, and the moment univerally poignant.

There was not a dry eye in the house. Tears streaming down the cheeks of people all around me, I had to forcably hold back the sobs I knew wanted to break forth from my own body. I couldn't let that happen - I didn't want my emotion to be an interrupting distraction from the moment. It was quite the experience, and it was the kind of night I always hope for when I go to the opera, to be quite honest. I want to be moved. And this time? This time I was.

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