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African American Experiences in Opera

About the Opera

Picture of Treemonisha cover

Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha is a story of the adopted daughter of formerly enslaved couple Ned and Monisha who becomes a leader in her community.

The opera blends rhythms of ragtime with the elements of European opera. Published in 1911, the work was premiered in 1972 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reviews and Analysis

Cerchiari, Luca. “Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha (1911), the ‘First’ Black Opera: A New Ethnoanthropological and Musicological Analysis.” Musicologica: Internetový ńĆasopis Katedry Hudobnej Vedy Filozofickej Fakulty UK, no. 1 (2018).

Ebright, Ryan. 2023. “Extraordinary Journey: Two New Adaptations of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha Underscore the Opera’s Enduring Viability.” Opera News 87 (12): 34–37.

Lumsden, Rachel. “Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha.” Black Music Research Journal 35, no. 1 (March 2015): 41–70. 

Sears, Ann. “Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha.” In Blackness in Opera: How Race and Blackness Play out in Opera, 101–15. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012.