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known for exploring the legacy of African-American folk traditions, honoring marginalized artists, and drawing from historical documents to create original material."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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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Scenesters brunch garden-party style at a South of Broad home that embodies eclectic elegance

Brushstrokes & Bloodies

Posted by Melissa Hayes on Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 12:21 PM

The Hagerty family home was the perfect setting for this Scene brunch. - COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Colleen Burdett
  • The Hagerty family home was the perfect setting for this Scene brunch.
Barbara Hagerty stood outside the doorway to the home she shares with her husband, the surrealist painter Dr. Richard Hagerty. It's a family home, one they've occupied together for 32 years. Mrs. Hagerty, a poet and author herself, is a gracious and personable host. This past Sunday, she warmly greeted Spoleto Scene members as they meandered in for this private brunch.
COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Colleen Burdett
Upon entering the Hagerty residence, you're immediately faced with a taste of the home's decor. The walls of the parlor on the right are dotted with gold eight-pointed stars. Horned skulls look out from a console table set beside floor to ceiling bookshelves. Variously patterned pieces of furniture sit beneath a chandelier dangling with tangerine colored crystals.

From here, you followed a hallway lined with oriental rugs and Dr. Hagerty's vivid surrealist paintings to the epicenter of the party where Scenesters mingled in the open concept kitchen and living room near the brunch buffet and cocktails or drifted through the glass double doors to the courtyard.
COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Colleen Burdett
Some climbed the main staircase to Dr. Hagerty's studio where he paused from painting to expound on color theory as it relates to music, the left brain's coordination with the right, and the dreamscapes that inspire his work. "It's all about the journey. This isn't the end product. It's the next one and the next one," explained Hagerty, pointing from one painting to another.

He's been painting throughout his life, but he didn't find his niche until the suggestion was made that he paint his dreams. "I turned into a lucid dreamer and a meditator. It's all a confluence. It's part of the same process," he said to the semi-circle of attentive Scenesters.
Dr. Hagerty chatted with party-goers about his work - COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Colleen Burdett
  • Dr. Hagerty chatted with party-goers about his work
His watercolors are filled with symbols and obscure images and are reminiscent of some of the greats of the surrealism movement — a Dalí influence here or a Miró-esque work over there. A painting of a bull with no skin hangs in the stairwell with canvas nailed to his eyes. Frida Kahlo's "The Wounded Deer" immediately came to mind.

"That's a self-portrait from being a plastic surgeon," Hagerty said. "The idea is that I'm on the other side of that canvas looking out. That's one part of my world." The works fill the walls of the artfully decorated house where everything seems random — with intention. 
COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Colleen Burdett
Though the home is a collage of bright colors, exotic patterns, and intriguing decor, the courtyard is dominated by green. The lush garden is visible through high arched windows that line the walls of the living room. A zen pathway bordered by greenery winds through the garden. At the far end, a shaded lanai with pillowed furniture offered a cool space for Scenesters to sit back. It provides an excellent location, I imagine, for Dr. Hagerty's meditative efforts.

Tables were available around the garden for Scenesters to sip, socialize, and dig into their brunch. Bamboo plates were stacked with offerings from Mt. Pleasant's Kid Cashew: spinach quiche, avocado toast, and shrimp and grits among them. In the kitchen, Charleston Bloody Mary Mix offered bloodies of the Fresh and Veggie or the Bold and Spicy varieties. Noble Vines' 515 rosé chilled over ice, and some brunchers enjoyed champagne poured over gelato. For those feeling health-conscious following a weekend of Spoleto-ing, a pony keg of Lenny Boy kombucha was available.

The brunch preceded Bank of America's Chamber Music event at Dock Street Theatre, just around the corner from the Hagerty residence. Scenesters filed out of the home and into the sunshine to walk to the performance with an extra lightness to their steps. Perhaps this was due to the dreamy aura of the home or perhaps it was the Bloodies and brunch bites. Either way, it was another great day to be Scene.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Spoleto Scene parties at the Guild to celebrate musicians David Virelles and Roman Diaz

And all that jazz

Posted by Melissa Hayes on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 3:10 PM

Percussionist Roman Diaz partied with Scenesters. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Percussionist Roman Diaz partied with Scenesters.
Once again, Scenesters braved the scorching heat on Wednesday to attend a scorcher of a party honoring legendary jazz masters David Virelles and Roman Diaz. For a change of scenery, the group moved the party from last week’s trendy cocktail bar with gilded decor to The Guild, one of Charleston’s newest apartment complexes centrally situated near Upper King.

"An apartment complex??" you may wonder, but rest assured, this is no ordinary housing facility. The Guild is one of Charleston’s newest and chicest abodes available on the Peninsula (with a hefty price point to match).

Scenesters migrated between the stylish interior, which felt like the lobby of a boutique hotel, to the brick courtyard where the majority congregated. Despite the oppressive heat wave under which we’ve all been melting, the breezy outdoor space was like a refreshing tropical wind tunnel complete with plenty of greenery and a zen waterfall fountain.
PROVIDED
  • Provided
The Guild even opened up one of their ground level showrooms for partygoers to play house and sip cocktails while checking out the luxurious digs. (Not a plug for the apartments, just a fact: They are spacious and stunning.)

DJ D!z was spinning records amongst the courtyard’s flora and kept heads boppin' by laying down the funk in his signature style. What’s more, the congregation had the unique privilege of mingling alongside several curious Spoleto performers who showed up to scope out the party. Is that a Scenester or a Shakespeare's Globe thespian? They blended right into the crowd out of costume, and their presence took the party to the next level.

Cathead Vodka aligned with Cannonborough Beverage Co. to pour a custom made concoction entitled "The Loneliest Monk," a play on the name of accomplished jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and a nod to the honorees of the party. The Monks were mixed with Cannonborough’s strawberry jalapeño soda for a refreshing cocktail with just a bit of bite.
PROVIDED
  • Provided
Meanwhile, Maker's Mark figured out how to make whisky summer-friendly with their Strawberry Tipples. The whisky was lightened with the addition of honey, candy-sweet strawberry reduction, lemon juice, black pepper tincture, Topo Chico, and topped with a fresh basil leaf. For those who strayed away from spirits, Wide Awake Brewing poured cold ones while chilled glasses of rosé were provided by Curated Selections, a company founded by a team of South Carolina somms.

Daps Breakfast & Imbibe added a quirky twist to the cuisine served with creative breakfast bites (or, given that it was evening, you could call this "brinner"). Their breakfast melt with coffee rubbed turkey, egg, and cheese sauce nestled into a sweet Hawaiian roll and topped with an impeccable pickle was undoubtedly a best bite of the evening.

Hard to make that call though alongside their mushroom and pork toast made with Holy City Hogs pork whipped into a savory mousse. The salty pork and umami mushrooms were surprisingly balanced atop an hors d'oeuvre-sized slice of french toast. Unusual pairings that aligned deliciously. Daps even converted a nostalgic childhood breakfast favorite, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, into a tasty sticky bun dessert. When asked about the restaurant’s offerings, a Daps co-owner Jeremiah Schenzel said they stayed away from biscuits and grits, Southern favorites that can be found almost everywhere in Charleston and that will never measure up to grandma's.

So far, so spot-on for Scene season. Here’s looking ahead with anticipation to this weekend’s Chamber Music brunch. Sunday funday: here we come.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Spoleto Scene gears up with swanky happy hour at Bourbon N’ Bubbles ahead of Salome

Boozy & bougie — Scenesters know how to party

Posted by Melissa Hayes on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 10:33 AM

Bourbon N' Bubbles makes for an ideal pre-show spot this festival season. - COURTESY SPOLETO SCENE/COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Courtesy Spoleto Scene/Colleen Burdett
  • Bourbon N' Bubbles makes for an ideal pre-show spot this festival season.
Weather apps claimed that it was a 100-degree "real feel" day, but that didn't stop Scene partygoers from marching down King for a refreshing glass of sparkling rosé or a smart Manhattan for a Spoleto Scene happy hour last Tuesday. The event was held at Bourbon N' Bubbles, a polished cocktail joint that opened in November of last year and still has that shiny, trendy, and new allure.

It's the kind of place that offers an exclusive membership for a meager $2,500 a year and presents a menu containing refined French caviars alongside laidback and surprisingly affordable offerings like Bahn-mi style turkey burgers, Southern-style deviled eggs, and sweet and spicy chicken wings.
Scenesters know where the party is — happy hour, baby. - COURTESY SPOLETO SCENE/COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Courtesy Spoleto Scene/Colleen Burdett
  • Scenesters know where the party is — happy hour, baby.
Aside from BnB's menu selections, the restaurant offers a superb assortment of cocktails. The aforementioned sparkling rosé and Manhattan were the Scene spirits of choice for this event, but Scene also generously provided attendees with complimentary cocktails from the menu (as long as they were regularly priced $15 or less.) This reporter enjoyed a deliciously dirty martini made with small batch Wheatley craft vodka made at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.
There's only one way to cool off in these temps. Cold drinks. - COURTESY SPOLETO SCENE/COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Courtesy Spoleto Scene/Colleen Burdett
  • There's only one way to cool off in these temps. Cold drinks.
Starting around 5 p.m., Scenesters began to stream into the gilded gold and olive green front bar with a sunny King Street view. Within half an hour, the entry had become a rather tight squeeze and a savvy bunch migrated to the more spacious horseshoe bar in the back, complete with intimate low light, red velvet couches, and plenty of room to breathe.
A bit of a crowd is a good problem to have. Clearly Scene's organizers are doing something right with their marketing efforts ("Insta-hype") and cool offerings. As for the fashion "scene" that the group has become known for, this event was a shift from the colorful tiki-chic of opening night to classic cocktail hour garb and summery prints.
COURTESY SPOLETO SCENE/COLLEEN BURDETT
  • Courtesy Spoleto Scene/Colleen Burdett
You can see why this might be the perfect venue for a Scene happy hour that precedes a dress rehearsal of Salome at the Gaillard Center, a single act opera inspired by Oscar Wilde's play by the same name. It's a healthy mix of elevated meets easy-going in the same way that Scene's younger crowd adds some pep to Spoleto's prestige.

Not to mention, patios are nice, but it's a smart move on the Scene organizers' part to beat the heat with a cool (literally) new spot that we've been curious to explore. Despite the flowing pre-show libations, the Scene crowd responsibly filed out around 6:30 p.m. to either catch the rehearsal or satisfy the appetite worked up during a lively and altogether stylish social hour.
Location Details Bourbon N Bubbles
568 King St.
Downtown
Charleston, SC
Cocktail Bar and Modern American

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