On a day that is notoriously hot, a refreshing breeze swept down Broad Street in downtown Charleston and a forecast calling for rain seemed to have been delayed. A velvet voice welcomed the crowd with the song, "Carolina" and the bells of St. Michael's Church rang, signally the beginning of the opening ceremony for Spoleto USA 2018. The mayor walked out the doors of city hall, all smiles. It was the perfect day to kick off one of the world's most renowned arts festivals.
Spoleto board chair William Medich expressed relief that the weather held out and that festival’s international performers had arrived. “I think it was a good idea not to invite the dance company from North Korea,” he joked. He said the festival is poised to have its second largest box office success since 2016, when it rolled out a new production of “Porgy and Bess.”
Playwright Henry Naylor commanded the stage when he spoke about a world in need of art festivals. His play “Borders” is about Syrian refugees. “
“Everywhere we travel, we see that the world is becoming angrier and angrier,” he said. We appear to be losing the ability to discuss and debate.” “This is where art comes in. For the next 17 days we will hear perspectives from all over the world. We will hear souls speak.”
Then, Mayor John Tecklenburg made it official. “And so maestro, let the baton twirl. Let the song begin.”
A blast of confetti filled the air as nearly a dozen acrobats from the performance “Backbone” tossed one another into the air, posing and balancing in seemingly impossible positions. The crowd cheered, and with that, Spoleto 2018 is officially underway.
Below: A clip of Gravity and Other Myths performing at Spoleto 2018 Opening Ceremony in downtown Charleston.