Tributes to longtime chamber music director Charles Wadsworth, a return visit by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and an operetta inspired by movie actor Peter Lorre highlight a more modest 2009 season of the Spoleto Festival USA.
The 33rd season of the internationally known arts festival will be staged from May 22 through June 2 across Charleston, festival organizers announced Sunday.
This year’s festival has a budget of $6.2 million – down from last year’s $8.4 million, said festival spokeswoman Paula Edwards. Last year’s festival was staged just as the national economy soured and ended the season $372,000 in the red – the first deficit for the festival in 13 years.
This year’s festival includes only one opera, a new production of Gustave Charpentier’s seldom-staged “Louise,” which is set in working-class Paris.
Wadsworth has directed the popular Spoleto chamber music series since the festival was established in 1977 and this will be his last season.
He will be the guest of honor at Spoleto’s opening weekend gala and a concert will be staged in his honor on the festival’s second weekend. Following the season’s last chamber music concert June 7, high tea will be served in Wadsworth’s honor in the president’s garden at the College of Charleston.
Other Spoleto highlights include “Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century,” an operetta bringing together director Jay Scheib and World/Inferno Friendship Society, a New York punk band.
Britain’s Kneehigh Theatre, which appeared at Spoleto in 2006, returns to stage “Dear John,” a theater production inspired by Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs during Spoleto’s opening weekend as part of the company’s 50th anniversary tour. The appearance marks the troupe’s fifth Spoleto appearance.
The Spoleto Festival USA was established in Charleston in 1977 by composer Gian Carlo Menotti and modeled after his festival in Spoleto, Italy.
The festivals worked together for years but the collaboration ended in 1993 when Menotti left the American festival in a dispute over money and his successor.
Menotti died in 2007 at the age of 97. Last year, the two festivals renewed their old ties.