For anyone laboring under the misconception that Spoleto Festival USA is a quaint, homegrown affair with little impact beyond the Charleston city limits, I refer you to a big, fat preview article in today’s New York Times on Faustus, the Last Night, which opens at the Sottile Theatre in about 2 hours, by my watch. In the article, festival director Nigel Redden indulges the opportunity to toot the festival’s horn a bit. The money quote:

Clearly, “Faustus,” defying expectations and demanding sustained attention, represents something of a risk for Spoleto. In a culture that seems to value entertainment over enlightenment and reality TV over reasoned debate, it may be a rare audience member who will sit still for an intellectually uncompromising opera, much less buy tickets for it. But Nigel Redden, the festival’s general director, sees groundbreaking contemporary opera like this as a logical expansion of its recent successes. “The past few years have been very successful at the festival in terms of audience, box office and fund-raising,” Mr. Redden said. “The point about being reasonably successful — well, you don’t want to push it too far, but success allows you to take artistic risks.”

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