Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announce Two World Premieres

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has announced two exciting world premieres slated for the 2023 and 2024 Festival Seasons.

During the 2023 season, the company will present a new adaptation of Scott Joplin’s opera “Treemonisha.” The work is reimagined for the modern era by composer Damien Sneed and librettist Karen Chilton.

“Working with OTSL is always a pleasure because they give creative teams the freedom to express themselves artistically without limitations,” said Sneed. “I look forward to collaborating with Karen Chilton to bring to life the work of the great composer, Scott Joplin. My mentor, the late Jessye Norman, always said that she felt Joplin never received proper placement as one of the most significant composers of the 20th century. I have been studying and reimagining Treemonisha in my mind since my freshman year at Howard University, and am thrilled about this new edition coming to life in 2023.”

In 2024 the Season will include the world premiere of “This House,” an operatic adaptation of Ruby Aiyo Gerber’s play by Gerber and her mother, Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, with music by composer Ricky Ian Gordon. The operatic adaptation by the mother-and-daughter team of Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage and Ruby Aiyo Gerber is based on Gerber’s original play.

“I am beyond excited to bring This House to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,” said Nottage. “Set in a majestic Brownstone in Harlem where the fractured Walker family grapples with their own tumultuous history and the implications of a shifting economic landscape, this timely opera is about memory, love, loss, and healing. It’s been an absolutely magical experience collaborating with Ricky and Ruby, who are both deeply soulful and inventive artists.”

Both world premiere commissions are supported by a five-year commitment from the Whitaker Foundation.

In addition to the two mainstage world premieres, OTSL is launching an initiative called the New Works Collective, a community-led commissioning cycle that will create nine new, short (20 minute) operas between 2023–2025.