A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, opera a cappella now available at Albany Records

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scott Joplin and Treemonisha (Overture)

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment