CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Friday marks opening day for Spoleto Festival USA's 40th season. The international arts festival attracts tens of thousands of people to Charleston every year and kicked off annual festivities with a crowd at City Hall Friday morning.
For the next two weeks, Spoleto performances will fill the city's theaters, churches and outdoors spaces. Festival organizers said around 70,000 to 80,000 people typically attend the annual event. Shows range from theater and dance to chamber music and jazz.
"As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spoleto Festival USA, I'd like to pay tribute to two towering figures in the life and days of this magnificent festival and the incomparable city it calls home -- Maestro Gian Carlo Menotti and Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.," Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
"We know firsthand that the age of Riley was also the age of Menotti and Spoleto, and we know that our city's great flowering of arts and culture, of civic pride and progress -- in short, our modern Renaissance -- could never have happened without them," Tecklenburg said. "They are two of the great men of Spoleto history, the indispensable figures in this festival's unflinching, unyielding quest for excellence in all things. And it is my honor -- our honor -- to pay tribute to their extraordinary achievements here today."
According to a press release, Spoleto Festival USA was founded in 1977 by Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene and others as the American counterpart to Spoleto, Italy's annual Festival of Two Worlds. "A Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Menotti began the Italian festival in 1958 as a forum for young American artists in Europe. When the organizers of the Festival of Two Worlds 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 the perfect place," the release said.
The 40th season also includes performances of "Porgy and Bess," at the recently renovated Gailliard Center.The opera was written, set, and newly conceived in Charleston; the performance is part of the festival's nod to Charleston history.
Two free public showings of the opera are also being offered.
A live broadcast of 2016 Festival opera "Porgy and Bess" will take place in Marion Square on Monday, May 30. Thanks to sponsorship by Wells Fargo, the simulcast will be open to the public and free to attend. A screening of 2016 Festival opera "Porgy and Bess" will take place at West Ashley High School (athletic practice field) on Tuesday, May 31. Both shows begin at 7:30
For additional information, including performance schedules and ticket info, please visit spoletousa.org.
Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.