It’s been a quiet week in Lake Spoletogone. All our lively guests of the past couple weeks, the touring dance and theater companies, the musicians and circus folk, the singers and storytellers, have moved on, hightailing it to their next gig. Sets and costumes went back to their slumber in peaceful warehouses. At the Cistern Yard, rambling rows of chairs got folded up leaving hardly a trace behind in the grass. And in drinking establishments around our fair city, serious-minded folks hunkered down to mull over their future in the face of some new wrinkles hatched up on Broad Street.

Another Spoleto season behind us, we’ll raise a glass, too, and consider how we’re feeling now that the guest room is empty. Fittingly, our springtime love affair left us with plenty of good memories as well as a few moments we’ll puzzle over.

Out on the street we ran into some old friends who, like us, were also slowly disengaging from the festival’s embrace. We compared notes with them and confirmed, once again, that everybody’s Spoleto is unique. Take all the programs on offer from both Spoleto USA and Piccolo, add the fact that no two Spoleto itineraries are identical, and you wind up with very different photo albums recalling this brief, intense encounter. Even when we attend the same shows, the images that remain with us provoke different responses.

We might ask “Did you see ‘X’?” and hear, “Oh, we did! Loved it!,” which leaves us a little bewildered.

We might respond to, “What’d you think of ‘Y’?” with, “Oh man, that blew me away,” only to raise our eyebrows at the shrugging off, “I couldn’t get into it.”

And so it goes.

By and large, the season conformed to our notion going into it: that it would be a no-frills affair. Our best date nights with Spoleto didn’t suffer one bit from a lack of frippery and fussy primping up. Our more lackluster experiences would not have been improved by any cosmetic enhancements known to man. Powerful, even haunting visions momentarily took up residence in our imaginations. Some did not reach that far into us, inspiring only a sigh. We love a grand show. We love it as much in the anticipation of it as in the moment it hurtles toward us in our seats. But a steady torrent of over-the-top novelty serves only to blunt our capacity to marvel at the unassuming, remarkable affections a more demure suitor might inspire. This season inspired a great deal of that quieter, unexpected affection.

Gratefully, we do come away from each festival season with one reassuring notion confirmed. On our dinner dates with Spoleto, over many delicious courses wildly varying in their presentation and ingredients, we come to appreciate that there are many paths to excellence and the creation of wonders for our palate to entertain. The world is on our plates, our appetites are sharpened by the sheer romance of it all.

Mostly, what we discovered this season was that the power of true passion has not dimmed even under the constraints thrust upon us by thinner wallets and all the background noise of a multi-channel world of distractions. Even when our definitions of it differ, we might agree that passion wins through.

In this context, there’s little reason to single out our own best-loved moments as anything more than that. We might point to the splendid Kat’a Kabanová. With equal conviction, someone else will counter with Facing Goya. We might treasure the memory of A Brimful of Asha. Another might find that, for them, this cup did not runneth over.

How about Kat Edmonson, Gwilym Simcock, Danilo Brito, and all the other tasty nosh brought to our table courtesy of the Jazz Series? Oh, you might say, I’m a really more of a Chamber Series sort of person.

We wish some of our guests could have remained with us a bit longer, like Edmonson, Brito, and A Simple Space. An extra performance or two. So that we could share a delightful discovery with more of our friends. We wish that we could have been everywhere, all at once, experiencing some of what those same friends urged us not to miss. It never works out that way. Regrets? Some might say, what’s a grand love affair without them? Who knows? No matter. In the end, our brief encounter remains, no more and no less, exactly what it needed to be. We’ll go ahead, reach for an authority on the matter, and quote Edith Piaf (because really, how often do you get a chance to do that?) “Non, je ne regrette rien.”

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