By ANDREW ALEXANDER / For the AJC
It may be chilly outside, but many arts lovers have spring on their minds with the recent announcement of the lineup for Spoleto Festival USA 2015. The annual fest brings more than 150 internationally acclaimed performances to venues across the charming coastal city of Charleston for 17 busy days of world-class opera, theater, dance and music.
Highlights of the 39th annual event, running May 22 through June 7, include the world premiere of “Paradise Interrupted,” an opera by Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo. It will be designed and directed by Jennifer Wen Ma, best known for her contribution to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The festival is also commissioning a new production of Francesco Cavalli’s “Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona,” a seldom-performed Baroque opera from 1652 that will technically have its American premiere at Charleston’s intimate and historic Dock Street Theatre. Also at Dock Street, the actors of Shakespeare’s Globe will make their festival debut with a production of “Romeo and Juliet.” The Scottish Ballet will perform renowned choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s acclaimed adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
The Gaillard Center, the state-of-the-art neo-classical performance hall that will replace the boxy 1968 municipal auditorium, originally was slated to be completed in time for Spoleto 2015, but the city announced in November that it would not be finished. Festival organizers took it in stride, saying they look forward to an even bigger celebration of the new venue in 2016, when Spoleto celebrates its 40th anniversary. In the meantime, some performances will take place again at the provisional sports-style TD Arena at College of Charleston.
The festival also will utilize a first-time, if much smaller, venue in 2015. The Woolfe Street Playhouse, a cabaret theater in the newly trendy restaurant-and-bar district of Upper King Street, will host Spoleto performances. Among them will be a history of popular song from 1770 to the present by drag artist Taylor Mac and a collaboration between Memphis street dancer Lil Buck and cellist Ashley Bathgate.
Also slated for the festival are dance performances from Trisha Brown Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts; puppetry from Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company of Italy and Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre of Vietnam; and music from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Dianne Reeves, the Westminster Choir, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and the musicians of the popular daytime chamber music series at the Dock Street Theatre.
Tickets, starting at $20, go on sale at 10 a.m. Jan. 20: 843-579-3100, www.spoletousa.org.