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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
Treemonisha
Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
Atlanta production, 1972:
Katherine Dunham (Director)
Robert Shaw (Conducto)r
Alpha Floyd; Louise Parker; Seth McCoy; Simon Estes; others (Atlanta production, 1972); Treemonisha, Carmen Balthrop; Monisha, Betty Allen; Remus, Curtis Rayam; Ned, Willard White; Parson Alltalk, Ed Pierson; with Ben Harney, Cora Johnson, Kenneth Hicks, Dorceal Duckens, Dwight Ransom, Raymond Bazemore, and the Louis Johnson Dance Theater (Houston production, as toured in NYC).
January 27, 1972
Morehouse College and Atlanta Symphony
The opera is concerned with the plight of the newly-freed slaves who, because they lack education, fall easy prey to conjurers and superstition. The story takes place after the American Civil War, on a plantation in the South. Treemonisha -- found under a sacred tree as an orphan -- is a young girl who is the only educated person in her black community. She refuses to accept the superstitions of her people. Angry with her denouncements, the conjurers-men who make their living by preying on the superstitions of others-kidnap her. As they are about to thrust her into a wasp's nest, her boyfriend Remus rescues her. She then returns to her people, and they ask her to be their leader. At the end of the opera, she prepares to embark on an educational campaign. The liberation of a people through education and the concept of women's liberation are the crux of Joplin's message. Joplin focuses on the need for education to eradicate prejudice, superstition, and ignorance.
'Treemonisha' as It Was Intended To Be - The Wall Street Journal, 12-6-2011

Opera Canada, Winter 1985; Opernwelt, 7-84; The New York Times, Robert Jones, 9-21-75; Time, William Bender, 9-15-75; The New York Times, Raymond Ericson, 7-2-75; The New York Times, Peter G. Davis, 6-1-75; The New York Times, Gunther Schuller, 5-18-75; The New York Times, Donal Henahan, 1-23-75; The New York Times, Walter Kerr, 1-2-75; The New York Times, Raymond Ericson, 4-9-72; The New Yorker, Winthrop Sargeant, 3-25-72; The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg, 2-13-72; The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg, 1-30-72
Opera in three acts; Joplin worked on the orchestration with his friend and protege Sam Patterson. Legend has it that the orchestration was thrown out with the trash one day in the early 1920s. Unfortunately, Joplin did not annotate his piano score, so his intentions for the orchestra were not preserved. The work brought Joplin a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize, awarded in 1976. The opera was discovered in 1970, and the world premiere took place at Morehouse College in Atlanta on January 27, 1972, with an orchestration by Thomas J. Anderson. Later that year, the opera was staged at the Wolf Trap Farm Park, using an orchestration by William Bolcom (Dramatic Publishing Company, Chicago, IL). Houston Grand Opera then staged what many refer to as the first professional premiere of the opera in 1975, with an orchestration by Gunther Schuller.
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Joplin didn't refer to Treemonisha as a ragtime opera. He set out to emulate the serious music he had heard at the Metropolitan Opera and by various touring European companies. He considered the work a grand opera, with an overture, instrumental prelude, solo arias, duets, ensemble pieces, and recitative. The opera also combines the forms of rag, barbershop quartet, sentimental ballad, waltz, march, and ensemble finales. Some extended harmonies are reminiscent of Wagner. Also, in one scene, the chorus parts are notated in a pitchless "graphic" notation reminiscent of avant-garde scores of the 1950s and 60s.
Volume two of the New York Public Library's publication The Complete Work of Scott Joplin, 1982
Schedule of Performances Listings
Treemonisha (Joplin)
Monday, June 06, 2011 - New York City Opera
Treemonisha (Joplin)
Saturday, January 24, 2009 - Opera Memphis
Treemonisha (Joplin)
Saturday, May 20, 2000 - Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Treemonisha (Joplin)
Sunday, November 07, 1999 - Opera Roanoke

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