Friday, January 29, 2010

“Washington Savoyards brings Scott Joplin’s 1910 opera 'Treemonisha' back to Washington”

[Piano Rags; Roy Eaton, piano; Sony SBK 833 (1995)]
Scott Joplin's TREEMONISHA
Feb 19-21, 26-28; Mar 5-7

Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
“The Washington Savoyards brings Scott Joplin’s 1910 opera
Treemonisha back to Washington for the first time since it was performed during the Kennedy Center’s celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976. This rarely performed opera—which was never performed during Joplin’s lifetime—is a superb piece of American operatic literature which draws on African American traditions for both its story and its music, but is also deeply influenced by classical opera. Joplin posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize 1976 for his contributions to American music .

The story : The Washington Savoyards production sets this opera in a Louisiana bayou. Treemonisha is an educated young African American woman who denounces the superstitions of her community. In retaliation, local conjurers kidnap her and take her into a swamp teeming with animals. Remus, her beau, rescues her at the last moment and they return home. A champion now of the community, Treemonisha triumphantly espouses education as the key to African American success.

Why Treemonisha and the Washington Savoyards: Since moving to the Atlas Performing Arts Center in 2006, the Washington Savoyards has broadened its repertory to include musical theatre and light opera as well as its traditional repertory of Gilbert and Sullivan.” “Treemonisha will share in this mission and will have a diverse cast. Treemonisha is a too little-known treasure of the rich American cultural tradition—created by one of the great masters of the American cultural tradition. Treemonisha will be attractive to audiences: it is by Scott Joplin, it tells an African American and an American story, it lauds education, the music is elegantly stirring, and there are roles for every age group that will delight every age group—the swamp animals and alligators will be great fun for children of all ages.

Artistic Director N. Thomas Pedersen was involved with initial productions of Treemonisha in the early 1970s and has long wanted to bring it to the stage again. The Intersections Festival provides the ideal setting for this to happen. The opera presents excellent opportunities for partnerships with not only our colleagues among the Atlas Arts Partners but also for reaching more deeply into the Washington area’s diverse artistic communities. For the Washington Savoyards, it is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the Company’s deep commitment to casting that is ethnically and generationally diverse and to the belief that education and knowledge are keys to superb productions and to life.” [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer and pianist of African descent who is profiled at]

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