Lead: Having reached maturity as a composer and fully established as a ragtime musician, Scott Joplin produced what some consider the first great American opera.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: By the first decade of the 20th century, Scott Joplin had become a celebrated composer and performer. His compositions were sold and played widely and his reputation as a performer was on the rise. During that decade he was also putting his hand toward his original opera, Treemonisha (1911). The themes of this work are loosely autobiographical though the story is unique. Living in a small rural community of former slaves, Monisha and Ted discover an abandoned infant under a tree and raise her as their own giving her the name memorialized in the opera. Like Joplin, her parents arrange for her to be educated by a white family in exchange for manual labor. The girl emerges from childhood to take a place of leadership in the community.