It's festival time! Spoleto opening in Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC - CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - The curtain is rising on another edition of the Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina's Lowcountry.

The arts festival opened at noon Friday at Charleston City Hall with the traditional round of speeches and fanfare. Robert Carter, a Charleston native and member of an all-male ballet troupe from New York was featured in the opening ceremonies.

He said the performance meant coming full circle for him because he was discovered as a child dancer in a Piccolo Spoleto event, which played a big part in his dancing career.

One of the biggest draws to Spoleto this year will be the return of shows to the historic Dock Street Theatre after the facility had an $18 million renovation.

Highlighting this year's festival is a remake of "Flora," the first opera performed in the colonies. Spoleto also boasts a full menu of jazz, concerts, choral performances and artist showcases.

The festival's marketing director Paula Edwards says the next two weeks offer something for everyone and every price. "A lot of Gaillard performances start at $15, jazz at $25," she said.

The festival features more than 140 performances and continues through June 13.

To buy tickets, go to, call 579-3100 or go to the box office in Gaillard Auditorium at 77 Calhoun St.

The city's smaller arts festival, Piccolo Spoleto, also kicks off Friday. Those tickets can be purchased at, by calling 724-7295 or at the box office in the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 King St.

Edwards advised people to visit the ticket kiosks to buy tickets because online and over-the-phone orders face an eight percent handling surcharge.

The finale at Middleton Place Plantation features the traditional fireworks display and a concert of fiddle and banjo music by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

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