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Scott Joplin: Treemonisha, American opera / Houston Grand Opera; Gunther Schuller

Album Summary

>Joplin, Scott : Treemonisha, opera in 3 acts
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Scott Joplin's Treemonisha, a uniquely beautiful and inspiring score, is a buoyant blend of ragtime, vaudeville and grand opera, with lots of dancing, a big portion for the chorus and arias and ensembles of stunning beauty. Its inherently American tone was definitely created by a true entertainer. Now available in spectacular multi-channel sound, this Pentatone re-release of Deutsche Grammophon's 1975 recording of Gunther Schuller (the work's orchestrator) and the Houston Grand Opera's performance reveals an interpretation that probably comes closest to Joplin's original intention.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
The performers are all quite good, especially Willard White, whose beautiful bass voice has brought him a major international career. His "lecture" to the villains is another high point of the recording. Carmen Balthrop embodies the kind, innocent, but brave Treemonisha, as does Betty Allen as her adopted mother. Tenor Curtis Rayam is impressive as Remus, and Edward Pierson makes a fine parson. The chorus and orchestra perform very well. The CDs are packaged in a book-like album that includes the full text, timings, and an essay about Joplin and the history of the opera.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: 1975/2014.



Reviews

Beautifully remastered recording from 1975
This two SACD set is a recording remastered from the original 1975 quadrophonic tapes. The booklet that comes with it gives some interesting background on the remastering, which involved the original audio engineers, as well as a brief section on Scott Joplin himself and the libretto of the opera.. All that presently survives is Joplinís solo piano score, as his manuscript of the orchestrations was destroyed in 1962 by a trustee who felt that the water damagedn score was beyond saving. Therefore, what we hear here is rather one possible orchestration using the piano score and some European ideas to bring it to life for an Opera orchestra. And it sounds mighty fine.

The story is a simple one, in that Treemonisha, who was found as a child, educated and raised by a white woman (reading, writing, and arithmetic), but is then somewhat ostracized by her village that still believes in sorcery and ruled by superstition.. Treemonisha is kidnapped and about to be thrown on a wasp-nest when she is saved by a friend, and is returned to her village where she mends political fences and is elected the leader of the community. This is definitely a feel-good opera, with the kind of pleasing purely American music that Scott Joplin was so very good at creating.
The Huston Grand Opera deserves high marks for putting on this wonderful sounding production, and Gunther Schuller does a fine job in the pit. This is not Puccini or Verdi by any stretch of the imagination. But the music and voices are true and delightful, and if you have never heard this work from Joplin, then I would whole-heartedly recommend this recording.

Submitted on 08/03/15 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Joplin, Scott : Treemonisha, opera in 3 acts
  • Performers: Betty Allen (Mezzo-soprano); Carmen Balthrop (Soprano); Ben Harney (Baritone); Curtis Rayam (Tenor); Willard White (Voice)
  • Conductor: Gunther Schuller
  • Ensemble: Houston Grand Opera
  • Running Time: 7 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1911