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The Medium 

When: Sat., May 28, 8 p.m., Mon., May 30, 3:30 p.m., Thu., June 2, 8 p.m., Sun., June 5, 8:30 p.m., Tue., June 7, 8 p.m. and Fri., June 10, 8 p.m. 2011
Phone: (843) 722-2764
Price: $25-$130

A MENOTTI CLASSIC REINVENTED. Director John Pascoe knows The Medium inside-out, having twice designed productions for composer Gian Carlo Menotti himself in Italy. But he's put those shows firmly behind him, aiming instead for a totally fresh staging of the supernatural opera. Festival choral director Joseph Flummerfelt will conduct. He also has long experience working with Menotti. In fact, The Medium was the first opera Flummerfelt ever conducted.

NOT YOUR EVERYDAY GHOST STORY. This is the tale of a boozy, demon-ridden medium who bilks her clients by conjuring up false spirits in fake séances. But this production will further explore her vulnerable side and those of the other main characters. Look for an especially gripping and poignant portrayal of Toby, a (non-singing) mute. Pascoe emphasized the importance of still casting a "deeply musical" person for the role. "I dearly hope our audiences will realize the greatness of Menotti's compositional voice," he says. "And his ability to seize listeners' emotions by conveying his characters' essential humanity."

BACK IN ITALY WHERE IT ALL BEGAN. Spoleto USA would not be in Charleston today were it not for Menotti. But why bring him back now (after all the grief and drama he caused here back in the '90s)? For one, it's his centenary year. And, as general director Nigel Redden puts it, "Whether or not you liked the man or could work with him, Spoleto wouldn't be here without him, and Charleston wouldn't be enjoying its current reputation as a major performing arts center. We need to celebrate his memory." Enough said.

— Lindsay Koob


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