FESTIVALS: CAROLINA'S GRAND NEW OPRY

WITH ITS MERCURIAL FOUNDER IN EXILE, CHARLESTON'S SPOLETO FESTIVAL GROWS UP, BRANCHES OUT AND CATCHES ON

In his creative heyday, Gian Carlo Menotti, 83, was noted more for his dark, neo-Puccini operas, such as The Saint of Bleecker Street and The Medium, than for comedy or farce. In later years, however, the aging composer more than made up for it. The setting was the antebellum-in-aspic city of Charleston, South Carolina, where in 1977 Menotti founded an American counterpart to his annual Spoleto Festival in Italy. Two years ago, Menotti resigned in a huff after a petulant, embarrassing two-year power struggle with the festival's board and management. First the board insisted on including an avant-garde art exhibit Menotti...

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