Dock Street reopening celebrated

By Bill Thompson | The Post and Courier | Sunday, February 7, 2010

Renowned French soprano Natalie Dessay and violinist Geoff Nuttall, director of chamber music for Spoleto Festival USA, will be joined by chamber musicians Pedja Muzijevic (piano), Christopher Costanza (cello) and Caroline Blackwell (viola) for a special gala concert April 1 to celebrate the reopening of Charleston's historic Dock Street Theatre.

The gala, which follows a three-year renovation, will be at 6 p.m. in the Wadsworth Room and includes a sneak peek at the opera "Flora," the ballad opera that was first seen at the Dock Street Theatre in 1736.

Festival General Director Nigel Redden said the program will showcase world-class international artists alongside emerging artists in keeping with Spoleto Festival USA tradition.

The restored Dock Street Theatre reopens in May with a Spoleto Festival performance of 'Flora.'

After a champagne reception, attendees can explore the restored public spaces. The concert commences at 7 p.m., followed by a seated dinner. A photographic exhibition of past Spoleto Festival USA performances at the Dock Street will be mounted in the Wadsworth Room, offering a retrospective of festival highlights.

Dessay will perform various arias, among them "Sempre Libera" from "La Traviata." The repertoire to be performed by the ensemble will include a new work by composer Jonathan Berger commissioned for the occasion. Berger is 2010 Spoleto Festival chamber music composer-in-residence.

Actress Heather Gillespie also will make a return visit to the

Dock Street stage, having already impressed audiences as Hagar in Target Margin Theater's production of Dubose Heyward's "Mamba's Daughters," performed at the Dock Street during the 1999 Spoleto Festival.

For the gala, Gillespie will perform Heyward's prologue to "The Recruiting Officer," written by Heyward for the reopening of the Dock Street Theatre following a renovation in 1937.

Ticket prices are $250, $500 and $1,000. Call 579-3100 or go online at http://www.spoletousa.org/.

In other festival news, the Spoleto board reported that the annual Spoleto Auction raised a preliminary total of $130,000 at Memminger Auditorium. It also was announced that a Spoleto Festival economic impact study is being prepared by the College of Charleston and will be available shortly.

The celebrated annual international festival of the arts runs May 28-June 13.

Reach Bill Thompson at bthompson@postandcourier.com or 937-5707.

Photo by: Doug Hickok

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