One of the world’s first Black operas, Treemonisha was a ground-breaking work about the evolution of a young Black woman into a remarkable leader.
Scott Joplin’s visionary work on Treemonisha in the early 1900s has served as inspiration for a group of artists assembled from across North America and the UK by the internationally-acclaimed Canadian company Volcano. This new version – Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha – is a 21st century take on Joplin’s musical milestone, and is being crafted predominantly by Black women.
Treemonisha is one of the few surviving live performance pieces about the immediate post-slavery era written by a Black person who actually lived through it.
Joplin himself called it a “grand opera”, but he was actually creating a new form. It was unbelievably progressive for its time, both musically and politically: Joplin’s young female protagonist, Treemonisha, is elected by her 1880’s community as their leader – long before women could vote; and Joplin’s astonishing music fuses classical and folk sounds with ragtime’s signature syncopations; with the Black precursor to the barbershop sound; and with Gospel. The fusion sound that Joplin was inventing for his opera was clearly the work of a genius.
This was a new kind of opera.
more on Treemonisha, here: https://www.volcano.ca/treemonisha
Left to right: Andrew Aldridge, Andrea Baker, Cedric Barry, Neema Bickersteth,
Jeremy Carver-James, Mark S. Doss, Ashley Faatoalia, Keisha T. Fraser,
JazFairyJ, Marvin Lowe, Justine Owen, David Andrew Reid,
SATE, Kristen Renee Young