Ahead by a Century: Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha Re-imagined

Scott Joplin's groundbreaking 1911 opera is finally getting the reinvention it deserves

Created in 1911 by Scott Joplin, Treemonisha is one of the few surviving live performance pieces about the immediate post-slavery era written by a Black person who actually lived through it. More than a century later, this first all-African American opera is being reinvented thanks to help from generous NAC Foundation donors to the National Creation Fund.

The National Creation Fund, supported entirely by donors, is enabling Volcano Theatre to bring together a large number of artists from across North America, including 16 singers and an orchestra of nine musicians, for a final development phase that includes a full-scale workshop with the entire creative team.

Meredith Potter, Volcano Theatre’s General Manager and Producer, shares, “The National Creation Fund investment made to Volcano for the development of Scott Joplin’s Treemoshia has been nothing short of transformational, both for the project and for our company. The funds have enabled us to develop the work at an unprecedented scale. We have been able to secure an international team of high calibre artists to lead the creation of the piece.”

Volcano Theatre has assembled an international creative team that is not only first-rate, but mirrors the story itself, with most of the key creative leadership roles – librettist, arranger, stage director, research and text dramaturge, costume designer – occupied by Black women. 

Jayne Watson, CEO of the NAC Foundation, attended a workshop of the performance in January of last year. “It was amazing to see donor impact through the Creation Fund first-hand. A huge thank you to all of the NAC Foundation supporters who are helping Canada’s most creative artists develop new work.”

Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha will have its world premiere in April 2020 in Palo Alto (California) presented by Stanford Live.

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