Spoleto Festival USA, Nigel Redden, Matsuakze, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Handspring Puppet Company
Festival General Director Nigel Redden today announced the 2013 artistic lineup for Spoleto Festival USA, which showcases nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in a celebration of opera, theater, dance, physical theater, music, and visual arts. The 37th annual Festival, to be held in historic Charleston, South Carolina, from May 24 through June 9, will feature one of Spoleto's largest lineups in recent history, with expanded dance and theater offerings and two original opera productions, as well as a wide range of classical and contemporary music.
The magnitude of this year's program is particularly noteworthy as the Festival is facing two seasons without one of its primary venues, the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, which is undergoing a major renovation. In addition to relocating its on-site box office operations to the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting Street, Spoleto is transforming the TD Arena at the College of Charleston from a state-of-the-art basketball facility to an acoustically balanced performance venue for Festival music and dance performances, complete with a traditional stage and full theatrical lighting.
The 2013 season of Spoleto Festival USA officially opens on Friday, May 24, with Opening Ceremonies at noon in front of Charleston's City Hall. The newly retrofitted TD Arena will see its first performances on Friday night as Compagnie Käfig presents an evening of hip-hop-influenced Brazilian dance. Following the evening's performances, the Spoleto Opening Night Fête kicks off the 2013 season with an elegant street party with cocktail supper, live music, a full bar, and the company of Festival artists and patrons.
Spoleto Festival USA is known for introducing audiences to new and groundbreaking work, and the 2013 Festival offers a number of American premieres in a variety of genres, beginning with the contemporary opera Matsukaze by Toshio Hosokawa, one of Japan's most prominent living composers. In dance, young tap virtuoso Jared Grimes makes his Spoleto debut premiering a new evening-length work created especially for the Festival. The theater program offers the American premiere of a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by England's Bristol Old Vic in association with South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company. One half of the operatic double-bill-Umberto Giordano's Mese Mariano-will receive its first fully-staged U.S. production. On the music front, John Kennedy, Spoleto Festival USA's Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities, will lead the Festival Orchestra in American premiere performances of Pierre Boulez's arrangement of Ravel's Frontispice and P?teris Vasks' Credo; and the Bank of America Chamber Music Series will feature the world premiere of a new work by composer-in-residence Samuel Carl Adams (son of composer John Adams, whose landmark piece Harmonielehre is being performed in a separate orchestral concert).
Other notable musical offerings include the young Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov -winner of the Prize Laureate at the 2012 Honens International Piano Competition-performing in the chamber music series; and concerts by a range of popular artists from composer/singer/banjo player Abigail Washburn, contemporary bluegrass band Punch Brothers, and vintage rocker/R&B artist J. D. McPherson to banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck pairing up with Malian superstar Oumou Sangaré to perform selections from their Grammy Award–winning project, Throw Down Your Heart: Africa Sessions.
In a first-ever collaboration, Spoleto Festival USA, the Charleston Horticultural Society, and The Garden Conservancy present Behind the Garden Gate, a self-guided tour through more than half a dozen of Charleston's beautiful private gardens, many of which have never been on public tour.
Tickets to these-and a wide variety of other-Festival performances are available now, at spoletousa.org and by calling 843.579.3100.
2013 PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Spoleto's 2013 opera offerings revolve around the theme of women and the terrible consequences of thwarted love, whether romantic or maternal. In Toshio Hosokawa's Matsukaze, the spirits of two sisters must wander the earth until they are released from the bonds of a centuries-old love. The opera was celebrated in Europe after its 2011 world premiere in Brussels. Spoleto's American premiere production is conducted by John Kennedy and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, who directed the landmark Festival productions of Monkey: Journey to the West and The Peony Pavilion.
In a pairing of two rarely performed Italian operas, the Festival brings together Umberto Giordano's Mese Mariano, in which a mother yearns to be reunited with the child she was forced to abandon years before, and Puccini's first opera, Le Villi, a cautionary tale of a woman scorned and the vengeful female spirits who force her unfaithful lover to dance himself to death. Though dramatically different in style, the operas share not only a similar theme, but also a common set and a unifying directorial vision provided by internationally recognized director Stefano Vizioli, whose work has been seen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera, among many others.
Running for the full length of the Festival season, and being presented for the first time in the U.S., is a highly anticipated new production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream created by Tom Morris and Handspring Puppet Company, whose last collaboration resulted in the Tony Award–winning War Horse. Handspring's puppets coexist with their human counterparts in a future primitive world populated by Shakespeare's familiar cast of characters.
Based on Sophocles' classical Greek tragedy, Nottingham Theatre's Oedipus has been adapted for a contemporary audience by celebrated actor/director Steven Berkoff. Berkoff directed the critically acclaimed Salomé at the 1990 Festival; this time around he not only directs, but also takes the stage in the role of Oedipus' brother-in-law (and uncle) Creon.
The Intergalactic Nemesis is a show unlike any other the Festival has presented, a self-styled "live action graphic novel" that draws its inspiration from such sources as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and the pulp serials of the 1930s.
The theater offerings also include two very different one-man shwos. Writer and performer Rob Drummond, in the alter ego of William Wonder, explores the history of the magic trick known as the Bullet Catch, which includes the true story of William Henderson, who died in 1912 attempting the infamous illusion. In Mayday Mayday Tristan Sturrock, last seen in the 2006 Festival presentation of Kneehigh Theatre's Tristan & Yseult, relates the true story of his recovery from a traumatic injury that threatened to end his career and change his life forever.
Nouveau circus has become a popular feature at Spoleto Festival USA, and in 2013 the Festival presents Compagnie XY in Le Grand C. The title refers to le grand chapiteau, or "big top," but the piece is not like any traditional circus. Set to French music, Le Grand C is a display of expressive movement and powerful physicality, suitable for audiences of all ages.
Under the direction of Ruben Olmo, Spain's renowned Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía offers a program of technically impeccable traditional Flamenco highlighted by soloists Pastora Galván and Rocío Molina, considered by many to be two of the most exciting dancers working in Flamenco today. Shantala Shivalingappa has captivated audiences worldwide with the vibrant, precise storytelling embodied in her performances. She returns to Spoleto Festival USA with Swayambhu in the style of Kuchipudi, India's millennia-old theatrical dance form. Inspired by an encounter with eleven young dancers from the shantytowns of Brazil, Compagnie Käfig's artistic director and choreographer Mourad Merzouki created Correria and Agwa, two works that combine samba, hip-hop, and capoeira dance styles. Lucky Plush Production's The Better Half is a humorous dance/theater piece that captures the habitual patterns, escapist tendencies, and resilience in contemporary relationships. Described by Debbie Allen as one of the few male tap virtuosos of his generation to embody the stage-savvy finesse of Robinson, Astaire, and Sammy Davis Jr., Jared Grimes brings a new evening-length work to the 2013 Festival.
After more than three decades of dedicated artistic leadership, Joseph Flummerfelt makes his farewell appearance as Spoleto's Artistic Director for Choral Activities conducting the Westminster Choir, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in a performance of Verdi's Messa de Requiem.
Led by Geoff Nuttall, The Charles E. and Andrea L. Volpe Director for Chamber Music, the perennially popular Bank of America Chamber Music Series features thirty-three concerts of 11 programs performed twice daily in the historic Dock Street Theatre. The 2013 series will see the return of such familiar faces as the St. Lawrence String Quartet, bassist Anthony Manzo, pianist Pedja Muzijevic, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein, among others. Making their Spoleto Festival debuts are 23-year-old Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, 2012 Honens Prize Laureate; percussionist Steven Schick, who performed with the Bang on a Can All-Stars of New York City; and the Brentano Quartet, whose recording of Beethoven's opus 131 in C-sharp minor is the basis of the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed feature film A Late Quartet starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken.
Led by renowned conductor Stefan Asbury, a regular with the world's leading orchestras and Chief Conductor of the Noord Nederlands Orkest, the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra presents a trio of orchestral works that have origins in folk music, including Bartók's rarely-performed suite from the ballet The Wooden Prince. In a second concert, John Kennedy conducts a program that features John Adams' mighty Harmonielehre (Book of Harmony) and the American premieres of the Ravel/Boulez Frontispice, performed with two pianos and five hands, and P?teris Vasks' Credo, a musical response to intolerance and ecological destruction.
John Kennedy's Music in Time series is a showcase for modern work-from what have become classics of contemporary music to the compositions of those working on the cutting edge of the genre. The 2013 season features works by pioneering composer and vocalist Pamela Z; the music of Nathan Davis, which blends live electronic processing with acoustic instruments; and a celebration of the 100th birthday of The Rite of Spring in a concert that links, without pause, the music of Stravinsky along with pieces The Rite influenced with works by Debussy, Reich, and others. The series also includes a program of pieces designed to evoke memory, including Matsukaze composer Toshio Hosokawa's Im Frühlingsgarten, Missy Mazzoli's Death Valley Junction, and William Duckworth's Shadowing Satie.