Like every other devoted Spoletian, we crammed in front of City Hall this afternoon for the festival’s Opening Ceremonies. Things kicked off with a prayer (reminding us that we are, indeed, in the Holy City), and Flora’s Robert McPherson (Hob) sang the National Anthem. Beautifully, of course.
Michael Colgan, director of Dublin’s Gate Theatre, charmed us with his Irish accent as he spoke of the special rapport the company has with our city, and he thanked Mayor Riley for keeping the artists in mind during the Dock Street renovations. “All of the artists at this festival believe you’ve got your priorities right,” he said. Riley then spoke about the renovations, hinting at a similar future for the Gaillard Auditorium, before giving his signature welcome: “And, now, Maestro, let the music begin, the dancers dance, the choirs sing, the children play, the banners fly and the confetti fall! I hereby declare the 34th Spoleto Festival U.S.A. has begun!”
The highlight of the ceremony was the surprise performance; the Trocks’ Olga Supphozova (who looked surprisingly like native Charlestonian Robert Carter) danced an impressive and rather hilarious little number that no doubt had some blue-hairs scratching their heads.
The sun reflecting off the asphalt was brutal, and the speeches were a tad long, but somewhere between the lists of thank-yous and the talk about how great Charleston is, I teared up a little. Because Charleston really is an amazing little city, and it never shines brighter than during Spoleto. Then again, maybe that was just sweat running down my face.