Saturday, May 23, 2015

SPOLETO: Art in the City

I've learned that a lot of people haven't heard of Spoleto; I'm sure I wouldn't have if I hadn't lived here in Charleston years ago. So I'll start with a tutorial right from Wikipedia...they say it well:


Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of America's major performing arts festivals. It was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy.
When Italian organizers planned an American festival, they searched for a city that would offer the charm of Spoleto, Italy, and also its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces. Charleston was selected as an ideal location, with Menotti saying of Charleston:
 It's intimate, so you can walk from one theatre to the next. It has Old World charm in architecture and gardens. Yet it's a community big enough to support the large number of visitors to the festival.[1]
     The annual 17-day late-spring event showcases both established and emerging artists
     in more than 150 performances of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz.
So, there you go. That's what we are up to these days. SPOLETO!
Opening Day Event
It started last night and our first performance was Romeo and Juliet at the Dock Street Theater - a spectacular small theater built in oh who knows when, but considered the first theatre in America. It is sooooo beautiful and of the sweetest scale. And for me, it has the lingering memories of the days I actually acted upon that stage in a couple of plays here in Charleston and created the costumes for other plays. 
Lee and I agree that the play, performed by the Globe Theatre of London was a bit of a let down. The acting was fine. But I am such a fan of Romeo and Juliet, I just don't know how you can do this play without enough passion to almost burn the house down. But, it is exciting to see people actually choosing to be performers for a living. I love this. I appreciate this. And there were several especially fine performances! It just didn't sing as a whole.
But, all that said...they were really cute! And here they are performing in the streets earlier in the day.
Players from the Globe Theater of London 
Walking home at 11:00 at night, the moon lit the way and the stars sparkled. The big dipper hung over us in the navy night sky. The steeple of St. Phillips was a monument of limestone pointing to the stars. So the night, as a whole, was so charming. To get dressed and look at my husband in his Italian linen suit with the pocket square, his cropped beard, his Ray-Bans as we walked to the theater in the sunlight, then home, hand in hand after the play. This was all sweet. 
Today we went to a chamber music concert - again at the Dock Street Theater - the same LOVELY 15 minute walk from our home - and it was fantastic. The moment it began with eight musicians on stage, featuring oboe, violin and harpsicord, a thrill moved through me - through my heart - and I was so happy to be in that seat. The second piece was contemporary, experimental and probably will be forgotten next week, but the first and third pieces - Vivaldi and Dvorak were so very beautiful and to think that you are spending a Saturday afternoon with these musicians who are so enjoying their lives in this moment, so into it, so generous.
Performers from the Chamber Music Performance today

Walking out into the afternoon, 75, dry, blue sky and breezy, we walked the long way home to take in the view of the harbor. Then I settled into my chair on the porch (working on that word "piazza" but it just doesn't stick for me) and dozed off in the breeze off the Ashley River.

Next week: Emmy Lou Harris. Madeleine Peyroux and Westminster Choir!

Madleine Peyroux - next week!



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