Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha' Performed For 36th Anniversary of Independence of Bahamas
Opera at the Dundas
By THEA RUTHERFORD ~ Guardian National Correspondent:
“'Treemonisha,' an opera written by the African American composer Scott Joplin featuring the sounds of ragtime, comes to life on stage at the Dundas for the nation's 36th birthday. Courtesy of Dr. Cleveland Williams, the operatic singer who recently returned home with a passion to give back to society, Treemonisha will unfold during a four-night run at the Dundas from July 6 - 8 and 11. The opening night's proceeds are in aid of the Sir Victor Sassoon Heart Foundation.

“Written and composed by Joplin in 1910, Treemonisha tells in music and dance the story of a young woman in a village of former slaves who triumphs over ignorance to teach her fellow villagers the importance of education. The opera combines sub-themes of mysticism with its witch doctor characters; love and family relationships with the bond between Treemonisha and her parents Ned and Monisha and even a bit of secrecy in a startling discovery to create a story with as much entertainment as didactic value. Williams, who calls himself the architect of a production he credits his extensive cast for bringing together, says that the opera's themes are universal and, in its focus on education, also tie in with the liberation of Independence.”

“Similarly in the opera, he points out, 'Treemonisha, being the heroine of the opera, leads the state of ex slaves to strive for something bigger and better and to educate themselves.' The opera's all-Bahamian cast is already a leap forward for those involved. The cast includes a host of local actors and singers, including Candice Bostwick and Nikita Wells Thompson, who will both play Treemonisha and Portia Barnett and Lillian Bastian, who play Monisha. The cast further consists of the National Dance Company of The Bahamas, with pieces choreographed by artistic director Robert Bain, and an orchestra that includes members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.” [Full Post] [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer and pianist of African descent who is profiled at]

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