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THE STORY: Bored with his routine posting in Beijing, and awkward with women, Rene Gallimard, a French diplomat, is easy prey for the subtle, delicate charms of Song Liling, a Chinese opera star who personifies Gallimard's fantasy vision of submissive, exotic oriental sexuality. He begins an affair with her that lasts for twenty years, during which time he passes along diplomatic secrets, an act that, eventually, brings on his downfall and imprisonment. Interspersed with scenes between the two lovers are others with Gallimard's wife and colleagues that underscore the irony of Gallimard's delusion and its curious parallel to the events of Puccini's famous opera Madame Butterfly. Combining realism and ritual with vivid theatricality, the play reaches its astonishing climax when Song Liling, before our very eyes, strips off his female attire and assumes his true masculinity-a revelation that the deluded Gallimard can neither credit nor accept and which drives him finally-and fatally-deep within the fantasy with which, over the years, he has held the truth at bay.