Jazz, opera, theatre… Oh my!

Charleston’s Spoleto Festival lights up the town with classical, modern art

The famous annual Spoleto Festival USA will be upon us very soon, beginning May 28 and lasting through June 13. Dozens of productions will be performed in genres of opera, theater and dance, among others. Widely recognized as one of the world’s most renowned arts festivals, this will be the 34th annual Spoleto Festival.

The newly restored Dock Street Theatre will be open again after a three-year, $19 million renovation. It is, in fact, America’s first theater, the venue of the first opera ever performed in America and that same opera will return to its historic American debut’s home. “Flora, an Opera” is one of three operas to be performed at this year’s Spoleto Festival.

On the opening three nights of the festival, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male ballet troupe, will perform at the Gaillard Auditorium. Founded in 1974, the Trocks have become known both for their highly skilled male dancers who perform exceedingly well in their traditionally female roles, as well as for their satirical attitude toward classical dance. While this company clearly has a profound love and respect for ballet, that doesn’t stop them from mocking the art form in tasteful, clever fashion.

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This world-famous troupe will be performing “Go for Barocco,” a ballet by Peter Anastos. This ballet, much like the troupe itself, is a satirical piece on the art form of classical dance. Following the troupe’s last performance of the festival, Artistic Director Tory Dorbin and Charleston-born Trocks troupe dancer of nearly 15 years Robert Carter will be interviewed.

The first among two theatre productions at this year’s festival — both written by gay men — is “Present Laughter,” the famous Noël Coward comic play about an egocentric actor who must fight off seductresses coming at him from every angle as he prepares for a touring commitment. Though in the play the protagonist is tempted by women, Coward has indicated that the play is based on his own life, and that the sex of his tempters was changed only due to social pressures, as the play was originally staged in 1942.

Canadian playwright and actor Daniel MacIvor wrote and stars in “This is What Happens Next,” which also involves strong autobiographical elements, including events that follow our male protagonist’s divorce from his husband. Among the colorful and complex characters in this one-man show is Aaron, a transgender female-to-male astrologer who fits in cleverly with the other characters. The June 1 performance of this play at the Memminger Auditorium will be the U.S. premiere.

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The festival will also feature a wide variety of music, including jazz, contemporary, string, choir, a capella and more.

Among the performing jazz artists are two Grammy Award-nominated artists of different generations. The Norma Winstone Trio is comprised of jazz-giant singer Norma Winstone, pianist Glauco Venier and reedman Klaus Gesing. Twenty-one-year-old guitarist Julian Lage, whose debut album “Sounding Point” was a 2010 Grammy Award nominee, will also be performing at the end of the festival.

For more information on performances, venues and dates, visit spoletousa.org. : :

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Posted by Tyler DeVere

Tyler DeVere is a former editorial intern for QNotes.