January 27, 1972
Composer:Scott Joplin
Librettist:Scott Joplin
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.

Click company name to view productions details.
Opera MemphisTreemonisha1/1/2009 - 1/25/2009
Opera Theatre of Saint LouisTreemonisha5/5/2000 - 6/24/2000
Opera RoanokeTreemonisha11/11/1999 - 11/11/1999

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Musical Style
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 prel

Vocal & Musical Forces
The Houston Grand Opera production included 12 principals, 20 dancers, and a chorus of 26. Schuller uses the forces that would have been available to Joplin: winds, reduced strings, piano, and percussion, including bongo drums.

Original Cast
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).

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