With the advent of warm weather signifying the arrival of summer in the Lowcountry, comes the Spoleto Festival USA. The event was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy. The annual 17-day soiree showcases renowned and emerging artists in dance, opera, theater, and music. Many of the performances are in Charleston’s architecturally unique historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces.
This year’s festival begins on May 27th and runs until June 12th. Headlining this year’s festival are the sold out performances of Porgy and Bess, the famed opera by George Gershwin based on the novel by Charleston native DuBose Heyward with costume and set design by Lowcountry artist Johnathan Green. Porgy and Bess will be the first Spoleto performance in the newly renovated Gaillard Center that housed the first production of the opera in 1970. Another highlight is The Importance of Being Earnest at the Dock Street Theatre. Oscar Wilde’s stinging satire has proven to be a festival staple and is making its 10th appearance in Charleston. Also, multiple houses of worship in the Holy City will play host to various musical performances throughout the festival, commencing with the 40th-season Celebration Concert at the Charleston Gaillard Center conducted by the esteemed Steven Sloane. Rustic Southern music with a modern sensibility by Grammy-Award winners Old Crow Medicine Show will be featured in the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. The preceding events are but a few of the engaging selections for entertainment during this year’s festival.
For a peek into the secret gardens of some of Charleston’s most celebrated residences, Spoleto will partner with the Charleston Horticultural Society and The Garden Conservancy for exclusive tours. Each weekend will offer exploration of eight lush oases of verdant green hidden amongst the brick walls and iron gates of downtown.