Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Spoleto Festival USA 2020 tickets on sale Wed. Jan. 15 at 10 a.m.

Get 'em while they're hot

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 2:05 PM

We have a feeling Meow Meow, a kamikaze cabaret, will sell quickly - COURTESY SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
  • Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • We have a feeling Meow Meow, a kamikaze cabaret, will sell quickly
Spoleto Festival USA returns to the Holy City this spring for three weeks of all the best international performing arts you can find, well, anywhere. From May 22-June 7 the city hosts 33 different shows — from a specially commissioned opera to world class jazz to some gravity-defying physical theater.

Tickets will be available to the public starting on Wed. Jan. 15 at 10 a.m.

While our Spoleto preview should give you a pretty good idea of what's on the docket this year, we will note that there are some shows that may sell faster than others. If you're eyeing a show that's only here for one night or in a more intimate venue (Woolfe Street Playhouse, hint hint), you'll want to snag those tickets sooner rather than later.

Learn more about the fest online at spoletousa.org

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA teases "Romantics Anonymous," a musical about two chocolate makers

Isn't it romantic

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:45 AM

PROVIDED/STEVE TANNER
  • Provided/Steve Tanner
Today Spoleto Festival USA tossed out yet another teaser for their 2020 programming: Romantics Anonymous, a musical from Emma Rice, the director of 2018's well-loved The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. The musical will run at Dock Street Theatre, May 22-June 7 — almost the entire duration of the festival.

Rice adapted Romantics Anonymous from the French-Belgian romantic comedy Les Emotifs anonymes and Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman developed the lyrics and music.

In a press release Spoleto general director Nigel Redden says, "Festival audiences have been continuously delighted by Emma Rice's productions and Romantics Anonymous will surely elicit the same response."
The plot of Romantics is reminiscent of Flying Lovers, described by the fest as "an unusual but tender love story." Two chocolatiers, Angelique and Jean-Rene, seek help in their individual businesses and their journeys "melt" (the puns possibilities abound) into a love affair.

Stay tuned for Spoleto's full program, which will be announced Jan. 5, 2020. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Wed. Jan. 15 and a donor pre-sale begins Jan. 6.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA 2020 teases balletic performance of "The Crucible"

From book to ballet

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 3:11 PM

Scottish Ballet brings Arthur Miller's classic 1953 book to the stage next year - COURTESY SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
  • Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • Scottish Ballet brings Arthur Miller's classic 1953 book to the stage next year
While we still have to wait until the new year for the full Spoleto Festival USA 2020 lineup, today the fest offered a little teaser of an opening weekend show: The Crucible.

Scottish Ballet will perform The Crucible May 22-24, 2020 at the Gaillard, accompanied by 18 members of the festival's orchestra performing a "haunting score."

This performance of The Crucible is based on the 1953 play of the same name — a staple in any sophomore English class, if that helps jog your memory. Arthur Miller's The Crucible explores the impact of the 17th century Salem Witch Trials, and we're excited to see how the Scottish Ballet translates that tale into dance.

In a press release Spoleto director Nigel Redden said, "Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is as relevant today as it was when it was first written, and Helen Pickett’s electrifying choreography, performed by immensely talented dancers, is the perfect work to kick off the Festival’s 44th season."

The full Spoleto Festival USA 2020 lineup will be announced on Jan. 5, 2020, and tickets for The Crucible and all other shows go on sale to the general public on Jan. 15. Become a donor and get access to early tickets starting Jan. 6.

Learn more online at spoletousa.org

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA names original opera, "Omar", based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said

"Shining a light on pieces of history"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 11:49 AM

Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020 - RANDOLPH LINSLY SIMPSON AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLECTION, JAMES WELDON JOHNSON MEMORIAL COLLECTION, YALE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, BEINECKE RARE BOOK & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY
  • Randolph Linsly Simpson African American Collection, James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020
Today Spoleto Festival USA released the name of their original opera, premiering at next year's festival, commissioned by Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens and based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim-African man who was brought to Charleston in 1807.

The opera will be called Omar.

Tracing Said's spiritual journey from Africa to his capture and enslavement in the Carolinas, Omar is a team effort from a number of artists including Giddens, composer Michael Abels, fest director Nigel Redden, director of orchestral activities John Kennedy, and more.

It seems fitting that the name of this opera would be released today, Fri. Oct. 25, the same day of the groundbreaking of Charleston's International African American Museum. The museum will be constructed on the site of Gadsden's Wharf, where up to 40 percent of American slaves, including Said, came to America.

Omar conductor John Kennedy (center) rehearses with composer/librettist Rhiannon Giddens and musicians before a music development workshop in New York City, September 18, 2019. Co-composer Michael Abels (seated, foreground) reads along with the score. - COURTESY SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
  • Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • Omar conductor John Kennedy (center) rehearses with composer/librettist Rhiannon Giddens and musicians before a music development workshop in New York City, September 18, 2019. Co-composer Michael Abels (seated, foreground) reads along with the score.

Earlier this year Giddens spoke about the importance of Said's story: "My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn't been represented in the operatic world — or in any world."

Interested in how the opera is coming together? Spoleto's director of artistic planning and operations, Nicole Taney, answers some questions on the fest's blog.

Learn more about Spoleto Festival USA online at spoletousa.org

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Rhiannon Giddens will premiere new original opera at Spoleto Festival USA 2020

"This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world — or in any world"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 11:44 AM

Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020 - RANDOLPH LINSLY SIMPSON AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLECTION, JAMES WELDON JOHNSON MEMORIAL COLLECTION, YALE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, BEINECKE RARE BOOK & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY
  • Randolph Linsly Simpson African American Collection, James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020
They don't take a breath over at the Spoleto office, do they? The day after a successful Spoleto Finale (read all about it), today, Mon. June 10, Spoleto has announced the world premiere of an opera slated for next year's festival.

The untitled production, composed by Rhiannon Giddens, is based on the 1831 autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, an African Muslim who was forced into slavery and arrived at Charleston's Gadsden's Wharf in 1807.

Grammy winner and MacArthur Fellow Giddens is described by the festival as a "musical archaeologist known for exploring the legacy of African-American folk traditions, honoring marginalized artists, and drawing from historical documents to create original material."

Giddens is one of the founding members of the folk band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Rhiannon Giddens - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Rhiannon Giddens
She's a natural fit to mold this story, which will premiere in the newly renovated Sottile Theatre next year. The production is co-commissioned and co-produced by Spoleto and Carolina Performing Arts at UNC Chapel Hill.

In an announcement about the opera, Giddens said: "My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn't been represented in the operatic world — or in any world."

Giddens has carried out extensive research and studied with numerous religious leaders and scholars to create the opera's libretto. The composition will feature a cast of seven, a small chorus, and orchestra, and the work will be conducted by the festival's resident conductor and director of orchestral activities, John Kennedy.

Director Charlotte Brathwaite will also help with the opera. In a press release Brathwaite said: "When we speak of 'slaves,' we often neglect to think of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, scholars, doctors, teachers, healers — human begins with full lives. But there were people who could read and write, people with deep connections to traditions and culture, and people who felt — despite their physical shackles — a deep sense of pride."

Check out the full press release (and read up on the opera in the NYT) on the Spoleto website.

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