Charleston’s international arts extravaganza, Spoleto Festival USA, kicks off in time for Memorial Day weekend and doesn’t quit until the fireworks finale at Middleton Place. Its internationally renowned acts range from opera, theater, physical theater, dance and music and include chamber music, choir, jazz, folk and a May 25 performance by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell—plus performer talks hosted by CBS correspondent Martha Teichner. Snag a seat for up-and-coming artists and global superstars. See a full schedule at spoletousa.org.
Only Sweet Seats
One of the more eyecatching locations for performances during the May 22-June 7 festival is the Cistern Yard. Performances take place with the backdrop of the classical campus swathed in dramatic lighting, and Spanish moss-draped oak trees create a grand yet intimate feeling. Performers include Musica Nuda, Monica Salmaso, Madeleine Peyroux, Dianne Reeves and Kate Davis.
Performers We Like
It’s tough to be disappointed with any Spoleto performance, of course, but some we want to see:
—Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, who have been collaborating for 40 years, or since her debut album "Pieces of the Sky," which includes songs he wrote. The May 25 performance begins at 7:30 pm, May 25 at TD Arena at the College of Charleston. Available tickets start at $54.
—Lil Buck, pictured atop this story, performing his jookin’ dance style from Memphis with cellist Ashley Bathgate May 29-31 at Woolfe Street Playhouse. Charles “Lil Buck” Riley brought international attention to jookin’ when a video of his improvised performance with cellist Yo-Yo Ma went viral on YouTube in 2011. Bathgate, meanwhile, is a member of the adventurous group Bang on a Can All-Stars. They perform May 29-31 at Woolfe Street Playhouse. See the Spoleto website for times.
—Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra performing the music to Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights” twice on Memorial Day, May 25, at College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. In the classic silent film, “The Little Tramp” performed what's considered his most beloved role. Author James Agee has described its final scene as the “greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.” Performances are at 5 and 8:30 pm.
—Shakespeare’s Globe presenting “Romeo and Juliet” at the historic and recently renovated Dock Street Theatre, May 21, 22, 24-25, 27-29 and 31 and June 1, 3-4 and 6-7. The esteemed London company hails from the rebuilt Globe, the theater that Shakespeare considered home. It's making its Spoleto debut, and its presentation of "Romeo and Juliet" is a brand-new production.
Don't Forget Piccolo
Complementing Spoleto Festival USA, as always, is the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which also offers a number of performing, literary and visual-arts events—these among younger and up-and-coming artists. Disciplines mirror those of the parent festival; expect classical music, jazz, dance, theater, poetry readings, children’s activities, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts and film.
A full schedule and tickets for Piccolo will be available closer to the May 22-June 7 event at www.piccolospoleto.com.