The Spoleto Festival USA

Every spring for the past 37 years, the Spoleto Festival USA comes to Charleston and fills the city with choral, jazz, dance, symphonic, opera, and orchestral performances. This year’s celebration is from May 24–June 9.

According to the website, Spoleto’s mission is to “present programs of the highest artistic caliber while maintaining a dedication to young artists, a commitment to all forms of the performing arts, a passion for contemporary innovation, and an enthusiasm for providing unusual performance opportunities for established artists.”

Spoleto Festival USA presents over 200 artistic premieres each year, including Journey to the West by Chen Shi-Zheng, Creve Coeur by Tennessee Williams, and The American Clock by Arthur Miller. Artists who made appearances at Spoleto early in their careers include Yo-Yo Ma and the Emerson String Quartet.

Christopher Keene and composer Gian Carlo Menotti founded Spoleto in 1977 as an American version of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Charleston’s rich historic and cultural history made it the perfect location for the Festival.

This year’s Festival promises to please, with Toshio Hosokawas’ opera Matsukaze and the rarely performed Italian operas LeVilli / Mese Mariano. Theater performances include perennial favorites Oedipus and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you enjoy dance, you’ll love the tap/hip-hop/street jazz style of Jared Grimes as well as traditional Indian dance by Shantala Shivalingappa and the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía.

Spoleto Festival USA always showcases a variety of music, and this year is no exception. From the West African harmonies of Angelique Kidjo to the Westminster Choir Concerts to singer Rosanne Cash, every taste in music is featured. Other genres include classical, Brazilian, vintage rock, and honky tonk.

Spoleto is also known for its special events. This year, tour exquisite gardens around the city, see the film A Late Quartet and discuss it with Chamber musicians, and marvel at the Spoleto watercolors of Stephen Mueller and Carl Palazzolo.

For more about the current season of Spoleto Festival USA, visit the website and download a brochure.