Good post, thoughtful comments. This is why I'm tuned to ETV radio in the morning. ETV has been doing this for years in a program called Spoleto Today, hosted by a former Spoleto Festival general manager, Marc Overton. Most of the people mentioned in your article have appeared on the program, usually before they performed. And the great thing is that these conversations reach the whole state, so everyone can participate. I'm not shilling for the radio (and I almost never watch ETV television) but this is one thing they do right when Spoleto is in town.
What a load of hype, fed to a gullible reporter who seems to know nothing about either opera or what is going on in the world outside Charleston. Not elitist? Check out the ticket prices. Asking everyone but the principal singers to work for free? And how does that make for a viable future? (It's called exploitation.) Acting as if there is no history of non-traditional, unconventional opera production in Charleston. What was that all those audiences at Spoleto have been watching since 1977? Denyce Graves had a marvelous career and brought pleasure to audiences around the globe, but her appearance at the re-opening of the Dock Street was appalling. And why have Templeton and Flaherty succumbed to the cliche of having a "star" performer, whose shortcomings will do more to undermine the venture than help it succeed? Anyway, it's the same old story: the tickets are far too expensive for most folks, and all this talk about "community roots" and outreach is a smokescreen for the same old condescension and pretension.
Rivas is only the latest in the long line of pretenders and posers that Charleston has taken to its heart, always eager to be impressed by a foreign accent, an expensive suit, a fancy car, especially if they are backed up by a story that includes either show business or royalty. A look back at the saga of Gordon Langley Hall might be instructive.
Perhaps you meant "linchpin" instead of "lynchpin"?
Standing ovations mean nothing, as any artist of stature will tell you. In the U.S. now, they stand for everything, whether it was good or bad or just mediocre. A better response to Villaume's magisterial performances would have been a concerted chant of "Tell us the truth about why you are leaving."
Boy, has this "alternative" newspaper lost its edge! Are you people so afraid of losing all your Spoleto-time perks that you have finally resorted to this kind of lapdog journalism?
The Spoleto Festival programming buck stops on Nigel Redden's desk, and if the offerings are cautious (and dull or boring or "retro" or just plain old tired and way behind the curve of what's going on out there in the world) then the "blame" rests squarely on Redden's shoulders.
Where have your reporters -- usually the first to catch whatever's blowin' in the wind -- been as the Spoleto board splintered over Villaume's departure? Has Redden locked them (the board members) all up in a ship in the harbor, where you can't talk to them? Are you afraid you'll lose all your free tickets if you ask a few tough questions (something Ms. Koob seemed unable to do when she talked to Redden near the end of the festival.) No one who has ears to hear doesn't know that the financial and artistic disaster of Monkey leads almost directly to the artistic disaaster of Villaume's departure. That the amiable Frenchman had the good taste (and Southern manners) not to rock the boat as he left is something everybody who remembers 1991 should be grateful for, but that doesn't change the fact that the Festival is headed downhill, with Redden leading the charge. Villaume's replacement -- this you can take to the bank -- will be an artistic cipher, some nonentity who will submit to Redden's control and make no waves as what was once the heart of the Festival - its large-scale opera productions -- are reduced, as this year's were, to artistic after-thoughts. It would take a lot of Floras and Proserpina's to begin to match one Wozzeck or Rosenkavalier or Elektra or Don Giovanni, or even that misfire Louise for that matter. And all that other stuff...including the tired Red Dots...was dreary and warmed-over stuff past its sell-by date. The Festival is on the backward end of the curve these days, while Redden puts the good stuff in his New York festival (how does he do it, some people wonder, work at two demanding full-time jobs?)
And you better be careful about mentioning Menotti. The aim of getting rid of Villaume (and that's what has happened over the past few months, as Redden and Mrs. Ingram move toward naming Redden as artistic director) was inj large part to eliminate the last vestiges of the old man's vision for Spoleto.
What happened to the old City Paper, the one that existed as late as last year? You guys never seemed so.....timid, so establishment before? Too bad. You have given up a role, a place in Charleston's artistic life that was, in the end, very good for the city and the community.
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