Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Washington Times: “Scott Joplin, 'Treemonisha,' Washington Savoyards At the Atlas”

[Treemonisha (JoAnna Ford) tries to teach Remus (Murvyn T. Cannaday II) to read. Remus has other ideas.]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Washington, DC—The Atlas Performing Arts Center kicked off its much-anticipated 'Intersections: A New American Arts Festival' this past weekend. The signature event? A sprightly—and rare--performance of ragtime genius Scott Joplin’s only opera, 'Treemonisha,' mounted by the Washington Savoyards who are now resident at the Center. Directed by Michael J. Bobbitt, the opera will be performed again this weekend and next.

“Since at least the 1970s, Scott Joplin (1867?-1917) has been regarded by many—myself included—as a uniquely American version of Frederick Chopin. In my opinion, at least, Joplin’s piano rags are worthy successors to Chopin’s mazurkas. A well-worn first edition of the original New York Public Library's edition of his piano compositions has been in my piano bench for decades.”

“The Savoyards’ evocative, minimalist production employs an artfully suggestive set, a mixed cast, and colorful period costumes. It all works quite well, resulting in a charming musical event that’s a little more like an early Broadway show than a grand opera--albeit a Broadway show with formal vocal recitatives and somewhat deeper characterizations.” [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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