Our next project at Opera Memphis is SCOTT JOPLIN AND TREEMONISHA. We are taking Scott Joplin's original opera and doing about 80% of it, but we are also adding a framework story about Joplin's failed attempt to get a production of his opera during his lifetime.
The overture, instead of being purely instrumental, becomes a scenario new cast members and words--In 1917 New York, Joplin pitches his opera to some producers who laugh at him behind his back; distraught, he goes to his favorite pub; he goes to another meeting with producers who don't see why anyone should want a show about black folks in 1870s Arkansas; he has a nervous breakdown and ends up in a hospital; his wife comforts him but he is distraught; even from the hospial bed, he says he has more meetings about his opera; and the curtain rises as if Joplin were showing his opera to another set of producers. All that in ten minutes.
And there's more to come... I hope that this touching context and contrast--a much revered African American composer rejected in his own lifetime--will help bring the opera to life.
Here is a "demo" of the overture so you get the idea. The vocal lines are mine, but the accompaniment is Joplin's overture, with some cuts.