Thursday, December 5, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA teases "Romantics Anonymous," a musical about two chocolate makers

Isn't it romantic

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:45 AM

PROVIDED/STEVE TANNER
  • Provided/Steve Tanner
Today Spoleto Festival USA tossed out yet another teaser for their 2020 programming: Romantics Anonymous, a musical from Emma Rice, the director of 2018's well-loved The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk. The musical will run at Dock Street Theatre, May 22-June 7 — almost the entire duration of the festival.

Rice adapted Romantics Anonymous from the French-Belgian romantic comedy Les Emotifs anonymes and Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman developed the lyrics and music.

In a press release Spoleto general director Nigel Redden says, "Festival audiences have been continuously delighted by Emma Rice's productions and Romantics Anonymous will surely elicit the same response."
The plot of Romantics is reminiscent of Flying Lovers, described by the fest as "an unusual but tender love story." Two chocolatiers, Angelique and Jean-Rene, seek help in their individual businesses and their journeys "melt" (the puns possibilities abound) into a love affair.

Stay tuned for Spoleto's full program, which will be announced Jan. 5, 2020. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Wed. Jan. 15 and a donor pre-sale begins Jan. 6.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA 2020 teases balletic performance of "The Crucible"

From book to ballet

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 3:11 PM

Scottish Ballet brings Arthur Miller's classic 1953 book to the stage next year - COURTESY SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
  • Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • Scottish Ballet brings Arthur Miller's classic 1953 book to the stage next year
While we still have to wait until the new year for the full Spoleto Festival USA 2020 lineup, today the fest offered a little teaser of an opening weekend show: The Crucible.

Scottish Ballet will perform The Crucible May 22-24, 2020 at the Gaillard, accompanied by 18 members of the festival's orchestra performing a "haunting score."

This performance of The Crucible is based on the 1953 play of the same name — a staple in any sophomore English class, if that helps jog your memory. Arthur Miller's The Crucible explores the impact of the 17th century Salem Witch Trials, and we're excited to see how the Scottish Ballet translates that tale into dance.

In a press release Spoleto director Nigel Redden said, "Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is as relevant today as it was when it was first written, and Helen Pickett’s electrifying choreography, performed by immensely talented dancers, is the perfect work to kick off the Festival’s 44th season."

The full Spoleto Festival USA 2020 lineup will be announced on Jan. 5, 2020, and tickets for The Crucible and all other shows go on sale to the general public on Jan. 15. Become a donor and get access to early tickets starting Jan. 6.

Learn more online at spoletousa.org

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Spoleto Festival USA names original opera, "Omar", based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said

"Shining a light on pieces of history"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 11:49 AM

Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020 - RANDOLPH LINSLY SIMPSON AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLECTION, JAMES WELDON JOHNSON MEMORIAL COLLECTION, YALE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, BEINECKE RARE BOOK & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY
  • Randolph Linsly Simpson African American Collection, James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020
Today Spoleto Festival USA released the name of their original opera, premiering at next year's festival, commissioned by Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens and based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim-African man who was brought to Charleston in 1807.

The opera will be called Omar.

Tracing Said's spiritual journey from Africa to his capture and enslavement in the Carolinas, Omar is a team effort from a number of artists including Giddens, composer Michael Abels, fest director Nigel Redden, director of orchestral activities John Kennedy, and more.

It seems fitting that the name of this opera would be released today, Fri. Oct. 25, the same day of the groundbreaking of Charleston's International African American Museum. The museum will be constructed on the site of Gadsden's Wharf, where up to 40 percent of American slaves, including Said, came to America.

Omar conductor John Kennedy (center) rehearses with composer/librettist Rhiannon Giddens and musicians before a music development workshop in New York City, September 18, 2019. Co-composer Michael Abels (seated, foreground) reads along with the score. - COURTESY SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA
  • Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • Omar conductor John Kennedy (center) rehearses with composer/librettist Rhiannon Giddens and musicians before a music development workshop in New York City, September 18, 2019. Co-composer Michael Abels (seated, foreground) reads along with the score.

Earlier this year Giddens spoke about the importance of Said's story: "My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn't been represented in the operatic world — or in any world."

Interested in how the opera is coming together? Spoleto's director of artistic planning and operations, Nicole Taney, answers some questions on the fest's blog.

Learn more about Spoleto Festival USA online at spoletousa.org

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Rhiannon Giddens will premiere new original opera at Spoleto Festival USA 2020

"This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world — or in any world"

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 11:44 AM

Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020 - RANDOLPH LINSLY SIMPSON AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLECTION, JAMES WELDON JOHNSON MEMORIAL COLLECTION, YALE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, BEINECKE RARE BOOK & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY
  • Randolph Linsly Simpson African American Collection, James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Portrait of "Uncle Moreau" [Omar ibn Said], the subject of Giddens' original opera to premiere at Spoleto in 2020
They don't take a breath over at the Spoleto office, do they? The day after a successful Spoleto Finale (read all about it), today, Mon. June 10, Spoleto has announced the world premiere of an opera slated for next year's festival.

The untitled production, composed by Rhiannon Giddens, is based on the 1831 autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, an African Muslim who was forced into slavery and arrived at Charleston's Gadsden's Wharf in 1807.

Grammy winner and MacArthur Fellow Giddens is described by the festival as a "musical archaeologist known for exploring the legacy of African-American folk traditions, honoring marginalized artists, and drawing from historical documents to create original material."

Giddens is one of the founding members of the folk band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Rhiannon Giddens - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Rhiannon Giddens
She's a natural fit to mold this story, which will premiere in the newly renovated Sottile Theatre next year. The production is co-commissioned and co-produced by Spoleto and Carolina Performing Arts at UNC Chapel Hill.

In an announcement about the opera, Giddens said: "My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn't been represented in the operatic world — or in any world."

Giddens has carried out extensive research and studied with numerous religious leaders and scholars to create the opera's libretto. The composition will feature a cast of seven, a small chorus, and orchestra, and the work will be conducted by the festival's resident conductor and director of orchestral activities, John Kennedy.

Director Charlotte Brathwaite will also help with the opera. In a press release Brathwaite said: "When we speak of 'slaves,' we often neglect to think of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, scholars, doctors, teachers, healers — human begins with full lives. But there were people who could read and write, people with deep connections to traditions and culture, and people who felt — despite their physical shackles — a deep sense of pride."

Check out the full press release (and read up on the opera in the NYT) on the Spoleto website.

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Scenesters turned out (and up) for happy hour at Basic Kitchen, weather be damned

Back to Basics

Posted by Melissa Hayes on Sat, Jun 8, 2019 at 10:38 AM

The party had to move inside but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • The party had to move inside but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits.
Some like it hot, but Charleston let out a collective sigh of relief when the rain came on Tuesday and cooled things off following our recent heat wave. Just one problem though — it’s Spoleto season! Parties galore are taking place in and out of doors, including Spoleto Scene’s happy hour at Basic Kitchen. Surely, the weather would hurt Scene’s turnout. Wrong-o.

Have friends, will travel (to Spoleto shows!) - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Have friends, will travel (to Spoleto shows!)
Despite the drizzle, the party didn’t fizzle. It thrived. The entryway was so packed that it’s a miracle the cocktail waitress carrying smashed english pea and whipped ricotta crostinis was able to gracefully weave between enthusiastic socialites. The cluster was justified. The rain kept everyone away from the patio, where the party was intended to congregate, and huddled up to the bar. No one seemed to mind. Happy Scenesters socialized, sipped, and snacked on fried cauliflower “wings” skewered and served with pickled celery and cashew ranch.
Basic’s drink menu, handwritten and hanging on the wall, warmly welcomed Scene and offered a summer-y custom selection of cocktails and wine. The highlight cocktail was, of course, Basic’s #SpoletoSips cocktail, Garden of Good. The drink, inspired by the Spoleto presentation of Roots, is composed of a spin on a traditional Verdita, lemon, agave, and garnished with a rim of spicy salt. 
Just a few chances left to snag this refreshing Verdita. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Just a few chances left to snag this refreshing Verdita.
It seems that Scene’s mission is succeeding. Not only are the parties worth wetting your wedges to attend, but Scenesters are showing up for Spoleto performances too. It can be intimidating to fly solo to a show. Throw in few new friends from happy hour, and suddenly that performance seems much more approachable. Mission accomplished.
Drinks, pals, mems, the usual. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Drinks, pals, mems, the usual.
The organizers have put a lot of thought into crafting this "Scene-ario." With its '90s-era, grunge rock setting, What Girls Are Made Of is a perfect pair with a Scene soiree. The wizards behind the curtain are millennials too, and they know how to curate to this crowd. Having a pre-What Girls Are Made Of happy hour at Basic Kitchen was a good move too. Basic has a wellness-oriented, good-vibes ambiance that coordinates with the millennial mindset.
Here’s hoping the rain holds off as we wrap up the season this week, and if not, let this Scene event inspire you to bust out those rubber boots and show up anyway!

See y'all at the finale! - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • See y'all at the finale!

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