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The Spoleto Festival USA was founded in 1977 by Menotti as a companion to his Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. He left the Charleston festival in 1993 in a dispute over his successor and died five years ago at age 95.

The festival opens May 24 with the traditional brass fanfare, chiming church bells and speeches in front of City Hall. It concludes June 9 with the Red Stick Rambler performance followed by fireworks at Middletown Place plantation on the Ashley River outside Charleston.