There is no scene that better describes the charming elegance of Charleston than standing outside of a Spoleto performance among the well-dressed, inviting crowd on a warm and beautiful evening. We were outside of the historical Sottile Theater awaiting the rarely performed pair of Italian Operas that Spoleto is hosting this year.
The evening began in the lobby with a pre-show glass of wine and kind ushers aiding you to your seats. Once the lights went down, you were immediately enraptured by the musical genius that began “Mese Mariano”. This is a spectacularly simple story with music by Umberto Giordano and libretto by Salvatore di Giacomo. As the first performance came to an end and I was brought back to reality by the roar of applause, I was stunned at the simple beauty of my first Spoleto experience. Fortunately for me, it was not over!
After a refreshment at intermission I was back to my seat with high hopes for “Le Villi”; a more extensive and colorful set and cast took to the stage. “Le Villi” captured the audience with song, dance and a story of unfaithful love and longing with music by Giacomo Puccini and libretto by Ferdinand Fontana. Both performances evoked emotions through the pureness of operatic song, and also with stories that captured the raw essences of love, anguish, regret and hope. I can happily admit that I left the theater with a new-found appreciation for the Opera as well as the magnificence of the Sottile Theater.
The splendor of the Sottile Theater, originally called the Gloria Theater, includes attractive lobby areas, a balcony terrace and an outdoor garden for receptions. The Theater holds a rich history, among which are the eye-catching murals inside the theater hall that date back to the theater’s Grand Opening in 1927. The major mural is a splendid depiction of Classical figures enjoying music and theater in the foreground of a breathtaking blue-green sea.
The theater was built by Albert Sottile, the president of the Pastime Amusement Company, and was primarily used as a movie house. The theater hosted South Carolina’s premier of “Gone With The Wind”, along with most of the movie’s original cast. The theater closed its doors and was donated to the College of Charleston in 1975; it was then restored and re-opened in 1990.
This particular dual performance of Mese Mariano and Le Villi has five more showings before the ending of Spoleto. I strongly encourage anyone and everyone who enjoys theater, Charleston’s beauty and history, or simply heavenly voices that will capture your soul to find your way to this rare performance.
WHEN: May 29, 31 and June 2, 4, 7, 2013 at 7 p.m.
College of Charleson
44 George St
Charleston, SC 29401
TICKETS: Click here to purchase tickets.