My knowledge of opera is admittedly shaky, but there are more operas based on American novels than McTeague, yes? Maybe it’s a San Francisco thing: Next month marks the world premiere of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, an opera inspired by Amy Tan‘s S.F.-set novel. Tan’s comments about it to the Wall Street Journal in an interview shows that her responses are as airy as ever (“My role as a librettist was not words. It was story, and emotion within that story.”), but it’s an attitude that works:
I’m writing another novel. I’ve done a lot of the research. I have the structure in my mind. That’s a lot of it. Have I got a lot of pages? No, but that part is OK. In most things creatively you have to get these other things going. The most difficult part is finding the voice and the sense of what the story is.