Charleston, S.C. has long been celebrated for its rich history and culture. Often referred to as the “Holy City” because of the prevalence of church steeples punctuating its skyline, it is also known for well-preserved architecture, myriad galleries and museums, an unparalleled restaurant and shopping community, and exceedingly gracious people.
The larger Charleston area was named both Top U.S. City and Top Destination in the World by Condé Nast Traveler 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards, and this was the second consecutive year the coastal destination received the No. 1 U.S. City ranking. Dozens of other recent acknowledgments, among many others, include being among U.S. News & World Report’s Best U.S. Historic Destinations, Fodor’s Travel Guides Top 21 Places to Visit, Travel + Leisure’s Top Cities in the U.S. and Canada, TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Destinations in the U.S., and CNN International’s Best Cities in the World.
To anyone who knows and loves Charleston (or aspires to!), it’s not surprising the Italian organizers of the first Spoleto Festival USA in 1977 chose this fair Southern city. They were searching for a place that offered the charm of Spoleto, Italy – as well as its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces.
The now-famous Festival was the brainchild of Pulitzer prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Menotti, perhaps best-known for his opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” wanted to bring to the U.S. the artistic fervor of the Festival of Two Worlds (Festival dei Due Mondi) in Spoleto, Italy. “It [Charleston] is intimate, so you can walk from one theatre to the next,” he said. “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.”
Three decades later Spoleto has become one of the world’s major performing arts festivals – and a vital part of Charleston’s trademark identity. The 37th annual Festival opened on May 24, 2013 and will last through June 9. There will be expanded dance and theater offerings and two original opera productions, as well as a wide range of classical and contemporary music. Approximately 160 performances by 45 artistic ensembles are scheduled. Artist talks punctuate performances and give audiences an opportunity to interact with the creative thinkers themselves.
This year’s “don’t miss artists and ensembles” are from Italy, the UK, South Africa, Japan, China, Spain, Russia, Korea, France, Brazil, Israel, Finland,
India, and from throughout the U.S. Additionally, works of both established and emerging artists will be on display at galleries and museums around town.
Tickets prices vary in price depending on event and venue. (To get the best deals, Spoleto’s website suggests attending shows during the middle of the week.) To review and select performances and purchase tickets, surf over to www.SpoletoUSA.org or call 843.720.1116 to ask questions.
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