Produced by Volcano in association with The Canadian Opera Company, Soulpepper, and Moveable Beast By Scott Joplin, Story Book & Libretto Adapted by: Leah-Simone Bowen, Co-Librettist: Cheryl Davis Co-Arrangers: Jessie Montgomery & Jannina Norpoth
Originally written by Scott Joplin (c. 1911), Treemonisha is one of the few pieces set soon after the abolition of slavery, written by a survivor of that era.
Fusing European classical music with the sounds of ragtime, folk, and gospel to create a thrilling and distinct sound, and introducing a young woman protagonist chosen by her community to lead, Joplin’s nearly-lost opera was far ahead of its time.
Working from the surviving vocal score and featuring the first all-Black orchestral ensemble in Canadian opera history, the new arrangements and orchestrations by Jessie Montgomery (Sphinx Medal of Excellence and ASCAP Leonard Bernstein award winner) and Jannina Norpoth (Grammy nominee) merge musical vocabularies, reflecting the major themes of the reimagined version: split identity – African and American – and the role of one’s ancestors in coming to terms with the realities of a new land.
Led by a predominantly Black female creative team from across North America, Joplin’s ground-breaking opera has been reimagined with a new story and libretto by playwright and broadcaster Leah-Simone Bowen (The Secret Life of Canada), working with Emmy-nominated co-librettist Cheryl L. Davis. Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha is conducted by the first Black woman conductor in Canadian opera history, Panamanian-American Kalena Bovell, and directed by award-winning, internationally acclaimed Canadian stage director Weyni Mengesha.
This reimagined version tells a revolutionary story of a young Black woman who, in discovering the truth of her past, and overcoming enormous personal loss, discovers her power to unify a divided people, and lead her community towards a new future.
Treemonisha has been co-commissioned by Apollo Theater (Harlem); BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music); the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity; Luminato Festival Toronto; Minnesota Opera; National Arts Centre, Ottawa, through the National Creation Fund; Southbank Centre, London; Stanford Live with the assistance of the Hewlett Foundation; TO Live; and Washington Performing Arts.
Photo of Neema Bickersteth as Treemonisha by Dahlia Katz. Artwork by Lost in the Island.
June 6, 2023 at 2pm (Preview) June 7, 2023 at 8pm (Preview) June 8, 2023 at 8pm (Preview) June 10, 2023* at 8pm (Opening) June 11, 2023 at 4pm June 14, 2023 at 8pm June 15, 2023 at 8pm June 16, 2023 at 8pm June 17, 2023 at 8pm
*Black Carpet Celebration. This event will celebrate the Black community’s contributions to the arts along with Black culture in general. Everyone is welcome.
Dress code for Black Carpet Celebration: Black and Gold. On this night black and gold speaks to the dark richness of our ancestors and soil imbued with our blood, sweat, and tears. We rise from the darkness—shimmering with gold. The gold represents the beauty we have created, the community we have fostered, and the power we possess as a people.