Last week, we heard some talking head comment that all Sarah Palin had to do to beat expectations was come out of her VP debate without losing a limb. That's how we felt going to the last performance of the Bonesetter's Daughter, especially after reading some excruciating reviews.

OK, there were some mildly favorable reviews (as well as a a comprehensive review list.) And while our natural inclination is to be indulgent with operatic world premieres, we had to fight our apprehensions with the unknown. But we want to reward risk taking on the part of SF Opera director David Gockley, and would like to see more gambits like this one in the future. Even if some of them will fall flat.

To our surprise, we enjoyed the Bonesetter's Daughter thanks to splendid performances by Zheng Cao and Qian Yi. Cao gets to sing two parts, as the opera weaves its way between the present and the past, retracing the adventures of the young LuLing from the sticks of China to her current mother-daughter relationship in San Francisco circa 1997.

Picture Terrence McCarthy/SF Opera