Treemonisha (1911) is an opera by American ragtime composer Scott Joplin. It is sometimes referred to as a "ragtime opera", though Joplin did not refer to it as such and it encompasses a wide range of musical styles.The music of Treemonisha includes an overture and prelude, along with various recitatives, choruses, small ensemble pieces, a ballet, and a few arias.
The opera was largely unknown before its first complete performance in 1972. Joplin was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1976 for Treemonisha. The performance was called a "semimiracle" by music historian Gilbert Chase, who said Treemonisha "bestowed its creative vitality and moral message upon many thousands of delighted listeners and viewers" when it was recreated. The musical style of the opera is the popular romantic one of the early 20th century. It has been described as "charming and piquant and ... deeply moving", with elements of black folk songs and dances, including a kind of pre-blues music, spirituals, and a call-and-response style scene featuring a preacher and congregation.
The opera celebrates African-American music and culture while stressing that education is the salvation of African Americans. The heroine and symbolic educator is Treemonisha, who runs into trouble with a local band of conjurers, who kidnap her.
Production performed by:
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers
Rick Benjamin - Conductor
Recording made in 2011 by New World Records