Arkansas, 1884: the black community is free from the bonds of slavery, but true self-government has been hard to achieve. Superstition and fake news pervade the fractured community and it falls to the young heroine, Treemonisha, to speak truth to power and lead her elders towards enlightened thinking.
Written by ‘King of Ragtime’ Scott Joplin in 1911, and influenced by his own experience as a young African American during the Reconstruction period, Treemonisha was one of his proudest achievements – but he never saw it staged in his lifetime.
Spectra Ensemble returns to Grimeborn with this all-singing, all-dancing piece which fuses African-American spirituals, barbershop and early blues styles to create ‘an entirely new form of operatic art’.
“Director Cecilia Stinton and set/costume designer Raphaé Memon succeed in creating a credible, somewhat homey – and homely – community, by means of a few wooden crates and a paper tree-sculpture.” Opera Today
“…all the characters feel as real as they can, and seem to inhabit a real world, thanks to Raphaé Memon’s elegantly restrained design, using packing crates, a washing line and a rather troubling tree (which opens festooned with manacles and a noose) to suggest the lost world of a plantation, and people, abandoned by the ‘white folks’.” Operissima
“An absolute winner…rises impressively to the high notes.” The Stage
“Joplin created something that has more than a touch of Hamilton in the eclecticism of its inspiration and the musicality that informs every note…how I would love to see this production shown in schools, with just its informed wikipedia article as preliminary reading. Never in my lifetime have we needed to listen to Joplin’s message more urgently.” Broadway World
Performances during Grimeborn Opera Festival 2019, from 27 – 31 August at Arcola Theatre, London.
Music Director | MATTHEW LYNCH
Director | CECILIA STINTON
Set & Costume Designer | RAPHAÉ MEMON
Lighting Designer | ALI HUNTER
Choreographer | ESTER RUDHART
Images © Robert Workman