Just because we’ve so far been unable to loosen any lips on next festival’s program doesn’t mean there’s no news to report. The other side of the pond has a Spoleto Festival, too, you’ll recall – the original one in Spoleto, Italy, begun in 1958 and known as the Festival of Two Worlds. Last spring, the chatter about the possibility of reuniting the two festivals in the wake of founder Gian Carlo Menotti’s death was deafening. Similarly deafening has been the silence on the subject since then, probably because Menotti’s loony son, Chip, was still doing his damndest to hold on to the reins of the old girl, even as he rode her into the ground.
That changed last week, when Italian culture minister Francesco Rutelli announced that Giorgio Ferrara, an Italian film and stage director, had been asked to “guide the rebirth of the Spoleto Festival” as its new artistic director, effectively performing a coup de gras on Chip’s leadership with a blunt object.
Playbill buries a knife in Menotti the Younger, also noting that a name change for the Italian festival is in the offing:
“The younger Menotti, who has been the festival’s only administrative head since his father’s death earlier this year and who also serves as the Festival Association general director, is being blamed for its current state of financial and artistic disrepair…. Some observers in Italy are speculating … that the younger Menotti might sue the city government and the Fondazione over the “Festival of Two Worlds” trademark, which he inherited from his father; this could lead the festival to keep its municipal status and current funding sources while operating under a different name.”
An Italian website called TuttOggi has more detail on the name change, suggesting also that a Charleston-Italy reunion is all but a done deal:
“ After 50 editions, Festival of Two Worlds will change its name … Yesterday, on the occasion of the press conference, Mr. Ferrara declared that it will be a simple name, surely including Spoleto, like ‘Festival di Spoleto,’ ‘Spoleto Festival Ita’ or ‘Spoleto Festival Italia,’ that recollects Spoleto Festival USA, the Charleston Festival founded by Maestro Menotti. In fact, the twinship between Spoleto and the American city will be soon renovated.”