Provided for Island Eye News
The Spoleto Festival USA presents wide-ranging works, both celebratory and reflective, for a 44th season coinciding with Charleston’s 350th anniversary. General Director Nigel Redden announces details of this seasons festival taking place May 22 – June 7. For 17 days and nights, a variety of artists will fill the city’s theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces with wide-ranging performances and concerts. “As Charleston celebrates the 350th anniversary of its founding, the Festival looks to its own place in the city’s rich history,” says Redden.
“There’s no doubt that Spoleto, founded in 1977, contributed to Charleston’s flourishing into its current status as a top destination—by bringing in worldclass artists, sparking a thriving arts and culture scene, and helping to revitalize performance spaces that can be used year-round.” After undergoing significant backstage and structural renovations, the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre will reopen with Spoleto’s landmark world premiere, Omar, a distinctly Charleston—and American—story.
Featuring the world premiere of Omar, Spoleto Festival USA’s cocommissioned opera based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim African sold in Charleston in 1807, with music and libretto by MacArthur Fellow Rhiannon Giddens.
- The Stations: Westminster Choir presents settings from Gesualdo’s Responsoria against a backdrop of American photographer Tom Keifer’s powerful images from the Southern border.
- Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran’s Two Wings: The Story of Black America in Migration.
- Film screening with live orchestra of Get Out, conducted by composer Michael Abels.
- Anti-apartheid activist and 2019 NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim gives special US concert as part of Wells Fargo Jazz series; jazz programming also includes Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a tribute to New Orleans icon Danny Barker (A New Orleans Jazz Celebration), The Cookers, and more.
- The Planets: Charleston natives Jonathon Heyward (conductor) and Micah McLaurin (piano) appear with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra on a concert featuring the music of Edmund Thornton Jenkins, Franz Liszt, and Gustav Holst.
- Composer-in-residence Jessica Meyer debuts a world premiere for St. Lawrence String Quartet’s 25th anniversary at Spoleto during Bank of America Chamber Music, directed by Geoff Nuttall; additional featured guest artists include Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Castalian String Quartet, Inon Barnatan, among others.
- American Public Radio’s Live from Here with Chris Thile broadcasts from the TD Arena at College of Charleston; Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi opens the First Citizens Bank Front Row series at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard.
Theater and dance highlights
- Director Emma Rice returns to Spoleto with her musical Romantics Anonymous.
- US premiere of Sea Sick looks at the climate crisis its effect on the global ocean; The Believers Are But Brothers tackles men, politics, and the internet.
- American Express Woolfe Street Series includes unique performances from cabaret star Meow Meow and illusionist/ mentalist Scott Silven.
- Scottish Ballet returns to Spoleto with The Crucible; Caleb Teicher & Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras join the 2020 dance series.
- Two physical theater companies present US premieres: Gravity & Other Myths and Machine de Cirque.
For more information visit spoletousa.org.