BOOTLEG FILES 723: “Treemonisha” (1982 Houston Grand Opera presentation of Scott Joplin’s opera.
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS video only.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.
If you are an opera buff like me – and, yes, believe it or else, I love opera – you will be interested in knowing about a new version of Scott Joplin’s sole surviving opera “Treemonisha” is being produced by Canada’s Volcano Theatre. This presentation – which includes a new libretto and expanded musical arrangements – was scheduled to premiere next month at Stanford Live in Palo Alto, California. However, a certain virus has forced the show’s postponement. (Thank you, Wuhan.)
Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1820 opera inspired by England’s 15th century Queen Margaret receives a bold and startling modern-day adaptation via director Alessandro Talevi’s 2017 Festival della Valle d’Itria production, now available on DVD.
Carlisle Floyd’s 1955 opera has long been a staple of regional opera companies, but it has only rarely been staged by the major urban companies – and, incredibly, this release marks the first time that has ever been presented on DVD. In this new release from the Naxos label, a 2014 version by Florida’s St. Petersburg Opera offers an intelligent interpretation that captures the raw emotional power of Floyd’s imaginative updating of the apocryphal Biblical tale of Susannah and the Elders into an early 20th century Appalachian setting.
Modest Mussorgsky’s opera receives a lavishly imaginative interpretation in this production from Bulgaria’s Sofia Opera and Ballet. Director/producer/stage designer Plamen Kartaloff brings the work to an open air setting in front of Sofia’s towering Aleksandr Nevskj Cathedral, and he fills his stage with an opulent parade of grandly costumed figures of the monarchial and religious hierarchies, offering a visual feast worthy of conductor Konstantin Chudovksi’s presentation of Mussorgsky’s towering music.