Spoleto ends another year, but this time on a financially happier note

During Spoleto's 2009 season there was much fretting about ticket sales in the freshly downturned economy, well this year things seem to have gone much better. 22% better in fact.

Read more stories on this subject in our Spoleto topic page.Yes the Spoleto Festival USA has shot around a release trumpeting their ticket sales of $2.728 million from some 70,000 tickets sold.

Here's the corporate narrative:

Spoleto Festival USA 2010 came to a jubilant close on Sunday with strong attendance at the Festival Finale at Middleton Place. Despite temperatures soaring in the upper 90s, more than 3,000 people attended the annual event, which featured a Carolina Chocolate Drops concert followed by fireworks over the historic Ashley River plantation. 


With ticket sales of $2.728 million, the internationally renowned performing arts festival exceeded its budgeted sales goal of 2.667 million, reflecting a 22% revenue increase over 2009. In total, more than 70,000 tickets were sold for approximately 145 festival events.

Praised widely for the strength of its artistic program, the 2010 festival included five notable world and U.S. premieres and debuts. Among these were Wolfgang Rihm's opera Proserpina, which received its American premiere in a Spoleto production directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, designed by Marsha Ginsberg, and featuring soprano Heather Buck. According to The New York Times, "the evening belonged to Ms. Buck, who sang beautifully in the plush melodies." The Wall Street Journal noted that "listening to Heather Buck perform the American premiere of Wolfgang Rihm's Proserpina, one could only marvel." 

In another premiere, Spoleto's new production of Flora, an Opera---an 18th-century ballad opera that was the first opera every performed in the American colonies when it was staged in Charleston in 1735---garnered enthusiastic critical acclaim. With music by Neely Bruce (who also conducted) and directed and designed by John Pascoe, Flora was called "an almost perfect comic confection" by The Post and Courier while the Columbia Free Times praised the production as "delightful...with wonderful music, a stellar cast and exquisite sets and costumes." The festival mounted Flora to celebrate the opening of the newly renovated historic Dock Street Theatre, a pairing that The New York Times praised as "inspired."

The world premiere of festival composer-in-residence Jonathan Berger's Theotokiawas a highlight of this year's Bank of America Chamber Music series. Written for and performed by Dawn Upshaw and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the song cycle for soprano, quartet, and piano was lauded by the Charleston City Paper as "a new chamber jewel" in which the "musicians, especially Upshaw, did a marvelous job."

Brazilian jazz vocalist Fabiana Cozza made her U.S. debut as part of the festival's Wachovia Jazz series in a performance lauded by Charleston City Paper for Cozza's "pitch-perfect power cords." And, in theater, Daniel MacIvor brought his solo showThis Is What Happens Next---"funny in parts, deadly serious, tragic, uplifting and decidedly manic" (The Post and Courier)---to Spoleto for its U.S. premiere. 

2010 also witnessed changes in festival artistic leadership. Geoff Nuttall, violinist and St. Lawrence String Quartet co-founder, succeeded Charles Wadsworth to debut as Music Director for Chamber Music. Following the series' May 28 opening concert,The New York Times asserted that "the chamber series appears to be in the best of hands." And, Music Director for Opera & Orchestra Emmanuel Villaume, citing an increase in his international conducting commitments, announced that he would step down from his leadership role at season's end. Maestro Villaume's successor is yet to be named.

The 2011 festival will take place in Charleston May 27 through June 12. Tickets go on sale in January. For more information about Spoleto Festival USA, please visitspoletousa.org or call 843.722.2764.


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