Sunday evening's Matsukaze after-party was an outing for serious arts buffs. Spoleto patrons with packed schedules mingled with performers and producers of Matsukaze, as well as shows like Jared Grimes and Mese Mariano. Annual festival-goers Frank and Barbara Tribble raved about Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri and Finnish jazz pianist Iiro Rantala, musing on the caliber of international talent attracted to Spoleto year after year. Other attendees urged us to take in Benin-born singer Angelique Kidjo as well as Bristol Old Vic's staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The crowd gave a generally positive review to the opening weekend, with smaller acts garnering more praise than festival cornerstones. Few seemed to notice the loss of the out-of-commission Galliard Auditorium; in fact, several patrons confided that the more intimate stagings actually felt more authentic. The Galliard's replacement, TD Arena, did not receive similar praise, with ladies telling me that they've already been advised by their friends to forgo wearing high heels to any performance housed in the basketball arena.
The Matsukaze party decor consisted of a muted scattering of orchids and bonsai trees. The passed hors d'oeuvres were a nod to the opera's Japanese roots: tuna tartare, fried prawns, and Rice Krispy treat rolls, a kitschy dessert filled with Nutella and strawberries.
As the night waned on, Spoleto Festival General Director Nigel Redden chatted up guests while the Festival's Director of Marketing and PR, Paula Edwards, told us that the weather during this opening weekend was a godsend sure to help ticket sales. John Paul Huguley, founder of the American College of the Building Arts, treated patrons to tours of the recently restored 95 Broad Street.
The team at Luxury Simplified Group, owners of 95 Broad, will be hosting another fête later in the festival, and we can't wait to see how they outfit the space to celebrate the Nottingham Playhouse's production of Oedipus.