It's Spoleto Festival USA time and it's Piccolo Spoleto Festival time. Wait a minute, which is it? Is it Spoleto Festival or is it Piccolo Spoleto Festival? Both festivals conspicuously take place May 27 thru June 12. The question is: Are they one in the same or two separate festivals occurring simultaneously? To answer that question, we need to investigate its history.
The name Spoleto comes from an ancient city located in Italy situated in the province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. To put it in perspective, it is centrally located some 131 miles southeast of Florence and 78 miles north of Rome. Spoleto is home to the "Festival dei Due Mondi" also known as the "Festival of the Two Worlds" first organized and founded by Gian Carlo Menotti. The festival has developed into one of the most important cultural manifestations in Italy, with a three-week schedule of music, theater and dance performances.
Gian Carlo Menotti wanted to establish a counterpart of the festival in the USA. So, the organizers searched the US for a city that would offer the same charm and hospitality of Spoleto, Italy, and also its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces. Charleston was rightly selected and the first festival was held in 1977. Spoleto Festival USA produces its own operas, which are rarely performed masterpieces by well-known composers and also presents theater, dance and music ranging from classical to jazz. It is now one of the world's major performing arts festivals.
While Spoleto Festival USA features artists and performers of national and international renown, the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs wanted to highlight outstanding local and regional artists. Thus, Piccolo Spoleto was established and became the official companion festival, the perfect complement.
Each festival has its own official poster. The poster of the Spoleto Festival is often not well received by the native masses and this years choice is no exception. The official poster is a red, white, and black abstraction of the interior, architectural schematic of London's famed opera house Covent Garden, home of the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet. The Piccolo Spoleto poster tends to favor local artistic tastes. Both posters are the featured images of this article. You decide for youself?
So, Charleston, for 17 days, will be full of the performing arts. Its theaters and streets will be filled with visitors and locals alike. There is scheduled something for everyone and anybody, a spattering of the diverse artistic expressions in our culture. It is by far the most popular festivals of the year. You can purchase Spoleto tickets and events and Piccolo Spoleto tickets and events. Charleston hotels and accommodations.
A couple of interesting scheduled performances:
Circa-Australia’s most innovative circus company debuts with its newest show, hailed by The Herald (UK) as “truly a circus, but with a poetic, life-affirming modern twist.” Combining heart-stopping acrobatics with contemporary choreography and cheeky humor. Memminger Auditorium June 7-12. Times and tickets. Prices $30-$45. Map location.
The Gentleman Pirate-Great fun, splendidly performed and exhaustively researched. “Grade A,” Charleston City Paper. A one-of-a-kind interactive theatrical event that brings to life the notorious Stede Bonnet. Pure Theatre, Powder Magazine, 79 Cumberland Street. Tickets: $16. Complete list of dates and times. Map location.
Award-winning South Carolina artists display their works at Marion Square, with free demonstrations each day. Marion Square, King and Calhoun Sts. Admission: free. May 27-June 11; 10am-5pm King St. at Calhoun St.