Tuesday, June 5, 2007

That was a lotta Latin

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Tue, Jun 5, 2007 at 4:01 PM

It looks like there may be another booming storm cooking up out there, preparing to punctuate the tail end of a fine day. As with last week, Monday and Tuesday have been low on rollouts for the Big Festival, as it recuperates from a second crazy weekend and gathers itself for the last mad rush toward Sunday’s finale. Last night’s main event was Verdi’s big Requiem, with the Westminster Choir, the Charleston Symphony Chorus, and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra bringing the number of musicians on (or under) the Gaillard stage to nearly 200.

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When the last libera me faded into silence, the jam-packed crowd thanked conductor Joe Flummerfelt and his charges with no fewer than four curtain calls. Many in attendance who made it to the end without nodding off (as I did last year)  seemed to feel they’d fulfilled their church-going obligations for the next several years, with credit – this goes double for the present and former Catholics in the crowd. Music critic Lindsay Koob was there, with bells on (not literally, as far as I know); you can read his thorough account of the onstage business at sibling CP blog Eargasms. This blogger had an overview column to write for Wednesday’s newspaper, so I had to pass on the post-Requiem celebrations, but the SpoletoToday team was there.

Tonight it’s back to the Gaillard for the Spoleto’s second Festival Concert, an evening with Mahler, Strauss, and Dukas that I’m told hasn’t been selling as well as organizers had hoped. If there’s time afterward, I plan to catch some of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv act at Theatre 99. A brief encounter with that gang Saturday night was just enough to leave me wanting the full heat. Tomorrow, of course, is the premiere of Philip Glass’ much anticipated Book of Longing at Sottile Theatre, as well as jazz impresario Augustin Luna’s first gig at Recital Hall. The face of Spoleto 2007 will be performing on the keyboards himself at the Sottile, but be warned: Chuck Close’s painting is 28 years old. If you’re going to see Longing looking for that young Bruce Springsteen lookalike, you may be in for a shock.

Verdi mid-concert cellphone ring count: 2

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vive la revolution! Power to the people!

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Wed, May 30, 2007 at 1:14 PM

Ticketmaster seems to have cleared up the problems last weekend that were leading it to tell hopeful Piccolo-goers that a variety of shows were sold out when in fact there were plenty of seats still available. The snafu was, understandably, sending show producers across the festival program into apoplectic fits. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Piccolo's box office folks weren’t able to reach anyone at the online ticket seller until the holiday weekend was over and its administrative offices opened again.

But even apart from that foul-up, Ticketmaster is not winning points with festival producers. Piccolo prides itself on providing a less pricey (in many cases free) alternative to the Big Festival, with ticketed events generally in the $10-$25 range. One producer, though, tells me that when purchased online via Ticketmaster, a single $15 ticket to a typical Piccolo show becomes a $23.50 investment, once you fork over a $4.40 per ticket service charge and an additional $3.60 “processing” fee for each order. Buying seats for you and three friends to see Human Giant or Closer? Prepare to part with $81.60 of your hard-earned lucre.

They call that convenience? I can think of a few other choice words for it. If you’re planning to see a Piccolo show – and you should – for god’s sake don’t give these corporate extortionists any of your money. Get in your car, park behind Gaillard Auditorium, put a dime in the meter, and pay face value for your seats at the Piccolo box office inside. Save the extra money for drinks afterward.

Monday, May 28, 2007

That’s (not) the ticket

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Mon, May 28, 2007 at 4:05 PM

The Ticketmaster problem we reported here earlier doesn't seem to have affected every show in Piccolo, but it’s definitely been a problem for several, among them the Village Playhouse’s Urinetown and Charleston Stage’s Denmark Vesey: Insurrection at the American. We’re told the Piccolo box office manager has been trying all weekend to correct the situation, but Ticketmaster’s offices are closed for the holiday weekend and so far she’s been stymied. For the time being, if Ticketmaster tells you a show you want to see is sold out, you’d best get a second opinion.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

They’re listening in New York

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Sun, May 27, 2007 at 5:11 PM

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For anyone laboring under the misconception that Spoleto Festival USA is a quaint, homegrown affair with little impact beyond the Charleston city limits, I refer you to a big, fat preview article in today's New York Times on Faustus, the Last Night, which opens at the Sottile Theatre in about 2 hours, by my watch. In the article, festival director Nigel Redden indulges the opportunity to toot the festival's horn a bit. The money quote:

Clearly, “Faustus,” defying expectations and demanding sustained attention, represents something of a risk for Spoleto. In a culture that seems to value entertainment over enlightenment and reality TV over reasoned debate, it may be a rare audience member who will sit still for an intellectually uncompromising opera, much less buy tickets for it. But Nigel Redden, the festival’s general director, sees groundbreaking contemporary opera like this as a logical expansion of its recent successes. “The past few years have been very successful at the festival in terms of audience, box office and fund-raising,” Mr. Redden said. “The point about being reasonably successful — well, you don’t want to push it too far, but success allows you to take artistic risks.”

Ticketmaster snafu?

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Sun, May 27, 2007 at 12:29 PM

Unlike Spoleto’s performers, Piccolo artists usually aren’t paid anything to appear in the festival; they’re here as self-producers and self-promoters, splitting a portion of the box office take and marketing expenses with the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs. Often they barely break even, sometimes they make a little money; it’s all a function of how many butts they can put in seats. Chatter among a lot of Piccolo artists this weekend has been heavily focused on an alleged problem with Ticketmaster, which, according to several sources, has mistakenly been telling potential ticket-buying patrons that shows are sold out – all Piccolo shows, even those with scores of seats still to sell. You’ll know more when we do. In the meantime, go directly to the Piccolo and Spoleto box offices at the Gaillard, where you avoid those nasty service charges.

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