Rapture at Spoleto

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Sue and I didn’t come down to Charleston until six days after The Rapture was scheduled, so we never suspected. But surely the End of Days has come to Spoleto Festival USA. The evidence is everywhere, and Charlotte banks are part of the grand design:

• Wells Fargo Jazz has gone to church. Yes, there are still outdoor concerts at Cistern Yard on the College of Charleston campus and, right across St. Philip Street, indoor gigs at C of C’s Simons Center Recital Hall. Dianne Reeves and Karrin Allyson are the big names so far, and Trombone Shorty is still to come. But for the first time, the series formerly known as Wachovia Jazz had a series of concerts by Norwegian pianist/composer Ketil Bjørnstad, making his U.S. debut at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul. One more Ketil concert today at 6 p.m.

• Spoleto and Gian Carlo Menotti are reconciled after death. The founder of both the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals had a rather messy divorce in an earlier decade with the younger Charleston sibling, but now she’s celebrating Menotti’s 100th birthday in with a production of the composer’s best opera, The Medium, with four more performances at Dock Street Theatre through June 10. Other music theater events worth checking out are The Gospel at Colonus and The Magic Flute.

• Spoleto Festival USA is reviving a production that closed off-Broadway two seasons ago after getting a four-star review in the Loaf from Perry Tannenbaum. Sue and I saw the Druid Theatre production of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan when it played at the Atlantic Theatre Company in December 2008. It’s time-sharing with The Medium at Dock Street Theatre through June 12.

• If all these signs and portents aren’t enough, let it be known that the Bank of America Chamber Music series is publishing their programs in advance! Not only has the veil been lifted from the contents of each concert (though the traditional chalkboard remains in the Dock Street Theatre lobby), you can now find out who will be playing every piece in all 11 programs – 33 lunchtime concerts in all through June 12. The info is printed in the Festival’s comprehensive program book, and it’s also online ! The cloud list does omit the players, so that’s Beethoven’s Cello Sonata #5 today at 11am and 1pm.

All of these events are recommended. We’ll have a more detailed rundown on Spoleto 2011 next week.

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