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Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina


Trisha Brown Dance Company. Courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival 2020 – The Virtual Version

[UPDATE: May 22, 2020] Spoleto Festival USA may have been cancelled, but there’s a virtual option—Spoleto at Home! Check this link for 17 days of music, including conversations with festival artists. The first starts today, May 22! https://spoletousa.org/spoletoathome/…

[March 24, 4:16 p.m.]  Due to concerns about the coronavirus, this season’s festival is cancelled. Here’s a statement by General Director Nigel Redden:

“2020 promised to be an exceptional year for Spoleto Festival USA. Omar, the new opera by Rhiannon Giddens with co-composer Michael Abels, was set to open our celebration of the 350th anniversary of Charleston’s founding by remembering an African scholar who was sold here in 1807 and penned his autobiography in 1831. Bank of America Chamber Music’s composer-in-residence Jessica Meyer was creating a world premiere for the Dock Street Theatre stage, while artists from South Africa, New Orleans, and beyond were set to arrive for concerts in the Wells Fargo Jazz series. Ticket sales had already broken records. But to continue plans in the face of COVID-19 would be irresponsible to our artists, audience members, volunteers, and staff, and to Charleston itself. We will be ready to celebrate the arts and Charleston again in 2021 when we all hope our world returns to normal.”

The festival is in the middle of planning for the 2021 season. We can’t predict which artists will   be available then. However, according to our press contact, one thing is certain—Omar will premiere during Spoleto’s 2021 season.


Charleston’s annual Spoleto Festival USA, which takes place from May 22 – June 7, 2020 is just around the corner!

In its 44th season, this year’s festival, which coincides with Charleston’s 350th anniversary, will showcase more than 150 cultural events. For 17 days and nights, a cornucopia of world-class artists will fill the city’s historic theaters, concert halls, churches and outdoor spaces. Artists from all over the world will perform works —both new and existing—in a range of disciplines that include theater, dance, and symphonic, choral, jazz and chamber music.

Of the festival’s important place in the city’s history, General Director Nigel Redden says, “There’s no doubt that Spoleto, founded in 1977, has contributed to Charleston’s flourishing into its current status as a top destination—by bringing in world-class artists, sparking a thriving arts and culture scene, and helping to revitalize performance spaces that can be used year-round!”

Highlights of Spoleto Festival USA 2020

  • The Trisha Brown Dance Company will showcase its spirit of innovation and creativity with a trio of unusual contemporary works.
  • Meow Meow, the Australian actress, dancer and cabaret singer (her stage name is Meow Meow) performs hit music, including risqué cabaret songs, pop culture hits—and everything in between. Nothing is off limits when the music is complemented with her raucous comedy!
Meow Meow. Courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA
  • The world premiere of Omar, a commissioned opera based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, will tell the story of a Muslim African sold into slavery in Charleston in 1807. Omar Ibn Said’s life and Muslim faith, recorded in his autobiography from 1831, are remembered and retold in this compelling new American opera. The music and libretto is by McArthur Fellow Rhiannon Giddens who collaborated with renowned composer Michael Abels (Get Out)[Learn more about Omar here: bit.ly/2wCnOUy]
  • Theatrical works are particularly relevant this year. They include The Believers Are But Brothers, by Javaad Alipoor, which covers three men’s journeys to online radicalization and Sea Sick, which examines the effects of climate change on the global ocean. This one-woman play, written by award-winning journalisms Alanna Mitchell, is making its U.S. premiere in Charleston, a coastal city challenged by flooding and the threat of offshore drilling.
  •  The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, Westminster Choir and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus will join forces for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the master’s birth. .
Performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Courtesy of Spoleto USA.
  • The Scottish Ballet returns with The Crucible. Choreographed by Helen Pickett, this first major dance adaptation of novelist Arthur Miller’s literary masterpiece, is an allegorical comment on the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. Members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra will accompany the dancers and play a haunting score by composer Peter Salem.
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band showcases its version of New Orleans music with the septet’s large repertoire and ebullient style.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA
  • Out of Chaos, performed by the high-octane physical theater company Gravity and Other Myths, makes its U.S. premiere in Charleston. Founded in Adelaide in 2009, the company features virtuosic acrobatics along with intimate, verbal language. These eight performers say it’s their “boldest and most ambitious work yet”!
  • Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras returns to Charleston with the dance company’s characteristic passion, drama and evocative style. Baras, a female flamenco performer and choreographer born in San Fernando, Spain, founded the company.
Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras. Courtesy Spoleto Festival USA

Much more, of course, is on Spoleto Festival USA’s calendar of events, including blues, chamber music, film and opportunities to socialize!

For the entire calendar and to purchase tickets, go to spoletousa.org or call 843-579-3100.




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