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Posted by on Jun 11, 2010 in Reviews | 0 comments

Joplin’s ‘One and Done’ in the UK- Never Done….

Joplin’s ‘One and Done’ in the UK- Never Done….

Scott Joplin's, "Treemonisha", production by Pegasus Opera Company

Scott Joplin's, "Treemonisha", production by Pegasus Opera Company

A couple practise their ballroom dancing. Someone is doing pilates. Over by the kitchenette, a group is chattering animatedly. There’s even some singing too: it’s a typical opera rehearsal. There’s only one difference — most of the singers are black. Sadly, in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, that is still a rare sight.

Pegasus Opera Company — which is made up of professional black, Asian and a few white singers — takes diversity seriously. “We’re all the colours of the rainbow,” says one member, Maureen Brathwaite.

Lloyd Newton, a Jamaican-born tenor, formed the company 18 years ago to give ethnic minority singers the chance to perform. Singers are given the opportunity to play all roles, regardless of their colour, a possibility missing in mainstream opera houses.

They’re rehearsing Treemonisha, which begins its tour in Cheltenham tonight. It’s the only opera by Scott Joplin, a man better known for his ragtime compositions, and this is its first professional production in this country. It is an apt choice for the company. Although they perform mainstream works, they also seek out operas with black themes. Two years ago they revived Delius’s Koanga, in which a black prince is forced to work on a plantation. Treemonisha is a fitting follow-up. Set in the American Deep South, the libretto — also written by Joplin — centres on Treemonisha, an educated former slave who strives to free her community from superstition. Read on for the rest of this interesting multi-racial production by Times Online reviewer Hannah Nepil….. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/classical/article7137836.ece

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