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Philemon and Baucis 

When: Fri., May 28, 8 p.m., May 29-30, 6 p.m., Sun., May 30, 12 p.m., Mon., May 31, 3 p.m. and Tue., June 1, 6 p.m. 2010
Price: $50

Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn and presented by The Colla Marionette Company of Italy. Written for orchestra and voices in the pit and marionettes on stage, the opera recounts the story of how the gods Jupiter and Mercury reward Philemon and Baucis for their humble generosity. Sung in German with English supertitles. Presented by Spoleto Festival USA. Approximately one hour.

Singing puppets
Colla Marionette, the centuries-old Milan-based company, crosses the Atlantic to perform the classic Greek story of Philemon and Baucis at the Emmett Robinson Theatre. Using a combination of wooden marionettes handcrafted in Colla's studio, four opera singers, and two actors, Colla will realize the classic Greek tale.

Planets align for a spectacular performance
In this famous tale, the gods Jupiter and Mercury disguise themselves as peasants and go from door to door seeking refuge amongst the citizens of a small town. They are turned away by all the wealthy families. Only Philemon and Baucis, a poor couple, invite them into their humble home and generously share their food. After revealing their true identities, the gods reward the couple by warning them of a deadly flood on its way to wash away the immoral town.

Marionette opera as "popular theater"
While highly uncommon today, in the 19th century, marionette operas were considered the theater of the masses. As an inexpensive way to bring high art to small towns, operas performed by traveling marionette companies allowed people of every status — rich, poor, young, old — to experience the artform first-hand. The port of Charleston will get its turn when Colla crosses the Atlantic from Italy to perform for the fifth time at Spoleto USA.

— Maggie Winterfeldt

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