New season of Spoleto Festival USA opens Friday

      By BRUCE SMITHAssociated Press

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The curtain rises on a new season of the Spoleto Festival USA on Friday.

      The internationally known arts festival this year will stage 148 performances by 63 artists and ensembles at venues around Charleston.

      It's the 38th season for the festival established by the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti.

      This year's festival features three operas, as well as theater, dance and concerts.

      Among the musical highlights are concerts by jazz singer Ren Marie, singer Kat Edmonson and banjoists Bla Fleck and Abigail Washburn.

      In addition to Spoleto Festival USA, the city of Charleston stages a companion festival featuring performers from around the Southeast. This year Piccolo Spoleto includes 700 events ranging from the performing and visual arts to poetry readings, children's activities, crafts and films.

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