Stanford Live to Present World Premiere of Reimagined ‘Treemonisha’

By David Salazar

Stanford Live is set to showcase the world premiere of a reimagined version of Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha” on April 23-26, 2020 at the Palo Alto High School Performing Arts Center.

The sole surviving opera by the famed composer will be produced by Volcano Theatre in association with Moveable Beast and will feature a new story and libretto by Leah-Simone Bowen and Cheryl L. Davis. There will also be musical arrangements and new orchestrations by Jessie Montgomery and Jannina Norpoth.

The cast will be headlined by Neema Bickersteth with Wenyi Mengesha directing.

“We’re thrilled to have this work as the centerpiece of our 2019–20 season. As the world changes around us, it is critically important to hear stories about women – and in particular women of color – who bring communities together and take the culture forward,” stated Chris Lorway, Executive Director of Stanford Live, in a press release.

“Joplin wrote this piece about a conversation that was only happening in his community. I aim to preserve that discussion while allowing this new ‘Treemonisha’ the space to grow, being mindful that history always holds a mirror up to the future,” added Bowen about reimagining the libretto, which focuses on a community divided during the aftermath of slavery.