Spoleto Festival Event Spotlights

Spoleto Festival Event Spotlights

Image to the left taken from SpoletoUSA.org.


For 17 days, May 25th through June 10th, Charleston proudly hosts the annual Spoleto Festival USA (as well as Picollo Spoleto.) It is extremely popular, drawing in people from all over the country, as well as overseas and is one of Charleston’s biggest annual events.

Spoleto is the American version of the international arts festival that is celebrated in Spoleto, Italy each summer. It is a true multicultural event, featuring performers from all over the world. During the festival, Charleston’s churches, historic theaters, and outdoor spaces are filled with internationally known artists as well as up-and-coming performers in theater, dance, opera, symphonic, chamber, choral, and jazz music. It has achieved international recognition for America’s premier performing arts festival. While enjoying performances of the highest caliber, it also gives young artists the opportunity to establish themselves in the various different arts. And for the established performers, it offers a host of unusual unique performance opportunities.

Charleston Harbor Tours will also take part in Picollo Spoleto this year, hosting four blues music harbor cruises aboard The Carolina Queen riverboat. Cruise dates include May 27 & 28, as well as June 3 & 4 and each of these cruises will feature a different blues band. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

Below I’ve spotlighted some of Spoleto’s events:

Kepler. Composed by Philip Glass, this opera explores the visionary dreams and nightmares of Johannes Kepler, the groundbreaking astronomer and mathematician who imagined “a continuous heavenly music only perceived by the mind.” This opera is conducted by resident John Kennedy, which will be his first staged production of Kepler in the United States. The opera suggests that there really may be a music of the spheres, as believed by Kepler.

K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang. This will be K.D. Lang’s Spoleto Festival debut, along with her band, Siss Boom Bang. Winner of multiple Grammys, and honors in both the United States and Canada, she has created a style uniquely her own, with a touch of country, jazz, country rock, and bossa nova.

Bank of America Chamber Music. This is considered the heart and soul of the Festival. Performed twice daily in the historic Dock Street Theater, there are changing rosters of artists and 11 programs performed. This series will mark the return of many esteemed musicians, including the St. Lawrence String Quartet, recent award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and pianists Pedja Muzijevic, Stephen Prutsman and Inon Barnatan. This event will also introduce newcomer, violinist Jennifer Frautschi.

Leo. Circle of Eleven. This award-winning new show is from the esteemed German company Circle of Eleven. The show, performed radiantly by Tobias Wegner, ventures into a world where gravity has shifted and Leo takes on a logically defying adventure that explores his desires and dreams for his lust of life. Through a skillful combination of projected film and live performance, two Leos move through identical space controlled by opposing physical laws. Invention and comedy is incorporated as he experiments with his limits of this strange environment. It will examine your perception of reality as Leo engages in tricks with hats and breakdances up walls.

Image above taken from the Spoleto Festival USA website.


Virginia Rodrigues. Born in Salvador, Bahia, the Brazilian city where African and Portuguese cultures blend, Ms. Rodrigues performs with a mesmerizing celestial contralto that gives a majestic and spiritual air to her voice. She sings at times in Portuguese and Yoruba (her west African heritage). This will be her long-awaited second return to Spoleto, having made her debut in 2001.

Return To The Sea: Saltworks. Motoi Yamamoto’s Return to the Sea, transmits something both infinite and indefinable.  The centerpiece of this exhibition is a site-specific installation created specifically from salt. Mr. Yamamoto built a connection to salt, which is a symbol of purity in the Japanese culture, in an effort to maintain the memories of his sister who died when she was just 24. The exhibit also features a series of Motoi’s sketches, paintings, and drawings.

Image above taken from the Spoleto Festival USA website.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. A blend of African-American and American modern dance, this dance group graces the stage with their beautiful dancers and magnificent technique and style. The New York Times has called this troupe “possibly the most successful modern dance company on the planet.” A wonderful way to open the 2012 Festival.

Traces. Les 7 Doigts De La Main. This cabaret-circus is set to an eclectic score pounding with dynamic energy and life. It is performed by 7 amazingly gifted performers weaving together their personal stories and presenting awesome acrobatic maneuvers that seem to be impossible. Traces is described by The New York Times as being “a fix of pure urban adrenaline….mad, pulse-raising magic.”

Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole. A fresh brilliant talent has appeared on the Creole music scene. Cedric is a fiddler, vocalist, and accordionist and has been nominated for four Grammys. Along with his Bijou Creole band, he will take the main stage at the Spoleto finale for a zydeco dance party for all ages. (Zydeco is American folk music that evolved in southwest Louisiana).

This is just a sampling of the many venues that will appear at Spoleto. Enjoy the amazing city of Charleston and all it has to offer with its history, beauty, awesome dining, and beautiful harbor. A great way to experience the area is by sea. If you’re looking for a break from the excitement of the Spoleto activities, join us for a wonderful cruise aboard Charleston Harbor Tours. It is a fabulous way to unwind and sip a cocktail while seeing the beauty of the city from a different perspective.

In addition to the above events for Spoleto, Charleston’s renowned theater group, Theatre 99, will be hosting Piccolo Fringe events from May 25 – June 9. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets. 

What Spoleto event seems most appealing to you? Let us know in our comments section!

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