Treemonisha - orchestrated and arranged by T.J. Anderson to be performed in Washington DC, Feb-March 2010


Feb 19 2009 - 8:00pm

Treemonisha, America's first indigenous opera, composed by Scott Joplin in 1910, will be performed by the Washington Savoyards, N. Thomas Pedersen, Artistic Director. Nine shows are planned, for February 19, 20, 21; 26,27,28; and March 5,6,7, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC, Marvin Mills, conducting.

This production features the orchestration/arrangement by ACA composer, Thomas J. Anderson. Anderson is well-known for his orchestration of the Scott Joplin opera, as well as for his oeuvre of more than 100 works in the symphonic, choral, chamber, and band genres. The frequently-commissioned composer has written for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and cellist Yo Yo Ma (Spirit Songs).

Treemonisha is an opera composed by the African-American ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Though it encompasses a wide range of musical styles other than ragtime, and Joplin himself never referred to it as such, it is still sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "ragtime opera". The music of Treemonisha includes an overture and prelude, along with various recitatives, choruses, small ensemble pieces, a ballet, and a few arias.

Treemonisha was not performed in its entirety until 1972, when the piano score was rediscovered. This discovery was called a "semimiracle" by music historian Gilbert Chase, who said Treemonisha "bestowed its creative vitality and moral message upon many thousands of delighted listeners and viewers" when it was recreated.

The opera's theme of education as salvation, is represented by the heroine, a teacher named Treemonisha, who runs into trouble with a local band of magicians who eventually kidnap her. The musical accompaniment of the opera is in the romantic style that was popular in the early 20th century, and has been described as "charming and piquant and ... deeply moving", with elements of American folk song and dance, including a kind of pre-blues music, spirituals, and a call-and-response style scene involving a congregation and preacher.