CHARLESTON, S.C. — The new season of Spoleto Festival USA will feature one of its largest and most varied program lineups in recent years, with performances ranging from Greek tragedy to Shakespearean comedy to modern graphic novels.
There is also a chorus singing Verdi, two original operas, Flamenco dancers and contemporary bluegrass.
The festival on Sunday unveiled the schedule for its 37th season. For 17 days each spring, the festival created by composer Gian Carlo Menotti lights up stages across Charleston.
Next year’s festival runs from May 24 through June 9 and features 160 performances by 45 artistic ensembles. Last season, Spoleto staged 140 performances.
The highlights include a new production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Tom Morris and the Handspring Puppet Company, along with a production of Oedipus by the Nottingham Theatre.
In a more modern vein is The Intergalactic Nemesis, which the festival describes as a live-action graphic novel inspired by pulp novels, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The opera offerings include Matsukaze, about spirits of two sisters condemned to wander the earth, and a double bill of Italian operas: Marian Month, about a mother who wants to be reunited with her abandoned child, and Le Villi, about a woman scorned and her unfaithful lover.
The dance offerings range from Spain’s Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia to tap dancer Jared Grimes.
It will be the final Spoleto season for Joseph Flummerfelt, who has been the artistic director for choral activities at the festival for more than three decades. He will be leading festival choirs and choruses along with the festival symphony in Verdi’s Requiem Mass.
Other musicians performing include Bela Fleck, Gregory Porter and a festival finale performance of Cajun honky-tonk by the Red Stick Ramblers.
New is “Behind the Garden Gate,” in which the festival, working with local gardening societies, is offering tours of more than a half-dozen private gardens, a number of which have never been open to the public.
The festival is without one of its major venues for the new season. Renovations began in August on the aging Gaillard Municipal Auditorium to create a $142 million world-class performing arts center.
In the meantime, the festival is moving its ticket office to the Charleston Visitor Center and will transform the College of Charleston’s TD Arena basketball facility into a performance space for music and dance with a stage and theatrical lighting.
The festival opens May 24 with the traditional brass fanfare, church bells and speeches in front of City Hall.
It concludes June 9 with the Red Stick Rambler performance followed by fireworks at Middletown Place plantation on the Ashley River outside Charleston.