Most people think of this as Memorial Day weekend, but for arts lovers in the Carolinas and beyond, it’s the opening of the Spoleto Festival USA.
For the next 16 days, Charleston will be bursting with music, theater, dance and more. Here are some of the possibilities.
Classical music, opera
Philip Glass’ opera “Kepler” puts the trailblazing scientist at center stage, musing on the solar system, his enemies and God. Another opera, Guo Wenjing’s “Feng Yi Ting,” takes us back to a pivotal event in Chinese history, when a woman’s wiles saved the Han Dynasty emperor. The daily chamber music concerts will range from string quartets by Mozart and Beethoven to “Lucy and the Count (Love Dreams from Transylvania)” by today’s Jon Deak. The Festival Orchestra spotlights innovator John Cage in one concert and the ever-popular Tchaikovsky in another.
Popular music, jazz
Spoleto offers the voices of gospel great Mavis Staples, singer and bandleader k.d. lang, Brazil’s Virginia Rodrigues and up-and-coming jazz artist Cecile McLorin Salvant. The Rebirth Jazz Band will bring a taste of New Orleans. Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro makes a return visit. David Pena Dorantes brings flamenco to the piano. And Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole will give the festival a zydeco finale.
The Gate Theater from Ireland, a longtime Spoleto favorite, returns with “Hay Fever,” Noel Coward’s comedy about a rich but eccentric British family that invites guests to come for a weekend in the country. The theater company 1927 performs “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets,” the tale of a mother and daughter who arrive in a sinister neighborhood in hopes of contributing “love, encouragement and a bit of collage.” Storyteller Mike Daisey performs “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” his journey through the technology visionary’s alluring creations and the human cost of producing them.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet returns to Charleston with a program including “Annonciation,” a look at the modern resonance of the biblical Annunciation by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. “The Radio Show” by Abraham.In.Motion explores the impact on a Pittsburgh community when the city’s only urban contemporary radio station fell silent. If you missed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater when it was in Charlotte last week, Spoleto will give you a chance to catch up. Or for that matter, you can see the company again.