Friday afternoon’s official festival opening ceremonies were perhaps the coolest — temperature-wise — ever, according to Spoleto Chairman of the Board Martha Rivers Ingram. And who do we have to thank for that? Why the mayor, of course, she joked. Ingram, Joe Riley, and a line of other VIPs gathered in front of City Hall to celebrate the festival’s 35th season. The sky threatened rain throughout most of the hour-long event, but luckily that resulted in some unseasonably pleasant temperatures.

After some bell ringing from St. Michael’s Church and a Dukas Fanfare from the CSO brass ensemble, the Rev. Robert Wallace of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church said a lovely little prayer for the festival followed by Ingram’s standard welcome. Bass-baritone Kevin Short, who’s performing in The Magic Flute, then sang the National Anthem.

Fred Child, host of American Public Media’s Performance Today, then took the stand. Wearing a straw hat, like the majority of the crowd, he said that if the wind got the better of them, not to worry — stray hats would be gathered at the end of the street and used for an art project for next year’s Spoleto poster. He went on to ruminate on the power of art for arts sake. “If you want to immerse yourself in beauty, it’s here. If you want to experience provocation, it’s here,” he said. He promised to spread the word about the festival on his radio show in the weeks and months to come.

Mayor Riley wrapped up the remarks with a bit of festival history and business talk about the economic impact of the festival, the arts, and our need for a Gaillard renovation. “The Gaillard will create life-altering experiences for schoolchildren and their great-grandparents,” he promised. After his usual proclamation to let the choirs sing, the children play, the banners fly, etc., etc., a burst of confetti enveloped the crowd.

Cristina Casa and Fernando Bufala of Corella Ballet wrapped up the ceremonies with a beautiful pas de deux, inspiring us to add yet another performance to our must-see list. It’s going to be a busy 17 days, but we know it’ll be over before we know it.

Video by Joshua Curry. Images by Shawn Weismiller.