This year’s Spoleto Festival USA is in the rear view mirror, but organizers have already made an exciting announcement for Spoleto 2020.
Speaking of which, the dates for Spoleto 2020 are set. It’s always the last week of May and the first week of June, but the particular dates vary from year to year. For 2020, the world-class celebration of performing arts will take place from May 22 through June 7.
It will be the 44th year of the festival.
The full schedule of events won’t be announced until January. However, they have announced a special offering. In fact, you can read all about it in the New York Times.
A very special world premiere for Spoleto 2020
It’s the world premiere of an original opera, commissioned especially for Spoleto 2020.
The composer will be Rhiannon Giddens. You may know her as a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. She’s won a Grammy, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and has deep roots in both opera and folk music.
The opera is as yet untitled, but will be based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said. He was born and educated in West Africa, then captured and sold into slavery. He was shipped to Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, SC, in 1807.
Gadsden’s Wharf is the site of the soon-to-be constructed International African-American Museum, or IAAM.
Who was Said?
Omar Ibn Said eventually escaped, was recaptured, put in jail, and later was sold to the brother of the governor of the state of North Carolina.
He wrote his autobiography in 1837. It’s the only slave memoir in existence that was written in Arabic. The Library of Congress recently put it online for public access.
Giddens will write the opera’s music and libretto along with co-composer Michael Abels. He wrote the score for Jordan Peele’s powerful film, “Get Out.”
The world premiere will be on May 22, 2020, in the Sottile Theater in downtown Charleston.
Giddens had this to say: “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now. This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world — or in any world.”
So get set for Spoleto 2020, and make your plans now to come to Charleston next May/June.
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