Thursday, October 13, 2016

InsideNova: Northern Virginia opera troupe aims to bring musical form to next generation ["Treemonisha" by Scott Joplin]

Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917) is profiled at, which features a Bibliography and comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

October 12, 2016

by SCOTT McCAFFREY, Staff Writer

How to hook young people on classical music, including opera? Make it relevant to their lives.
That’s the thinking behind Opera Nova’s long-planned and now set-for-2017 production of Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha,” which will be produced for schoolchildren and aims to ultimately be presented far beyond the confines of Northern Virginia.
“It’s so timely, it’s so on point,” said Larry King, an Opera Nova board member, speaking at the organization’s annual fund-raising brunch, held Oct. 9 at Washington Golf & Country Club.
Putting together the production helps to fulfill Opera Nova’s mission as “an opera company dedicated to the total access of all people – making itself available to the masses,” King said at a gathering that also included performances of operatic works ranging from the 19th century to the modern day.
The production – described as the first uniquely American opera and representing something of a departure from Joplin’s roots in ragtime music – follows a group of freed slaves in 1880s Arkansas, as a young woman (the title character) urges the others to embrace education and cast away the superstitions of previous times.
Opera Nova’s original plan to present the production in 2016 was pushed back by circumstances, but moving to 2017 has the advantage that it will be performed both during the 150th anniversary of Joplin’s birth and the 100th of his death.
“The extent to which we can bring opera to children, we’re doing some good for the future,” said retired federal judge Loren Smith, who serves on the board of WETA and has performed in opera himself.

Smith said opera was “being drowned out” by other elements in the culture, but that it and related forms of music need to be cherished.

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