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Festival joins with Italy again

May 24, 2008|From the Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Spoleto Festival USA renewed ties Friday with the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, amid brass fanfares, jazz, tumbling acrobats and a shower of white confetti.

"Today we begin again a process of mutual benefit to share and collaborate, engage our communities and our festivals," Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. told about 2,000 people gathered in front of City Hall for the opening of the Charleston festival. "Our family is back together."

Both festivals were founded by late composer Gian Carlo Menotti and, in the past, had cooperated with shared productions. But that ended 15 years ago when Menotti left the Charleston festival in a dispute over money and his successor.

The festivals began exploring ways to again cooperate after the composer died last year.

After the speeches, the crowd was entertained by a short performance by acrobats from the Spoleto production of "Monkey: Journey to the West."

Spoleto will feature more than 100 performances, including a new production of the opera "Amistad," before it closes June 8 with a traditional concert and fireworks display.

Festival general director Nigel Redden predicted a tight year for the festival with rising gas prices and a troubled economy.

"I'm not optimistic the budget will balance," said Redden.

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