- Associated Press - Friday, May 25, 2012

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The 36th edition of the Spoleto Festival USA is open in Charleston.

The festival got under way at noon Friday with a peal of church bells, a brass fanfare, confetti floating from the air and a round of speeches.

Those speaking included Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Spoleto, Italy, Mayor Daniele Benedetti and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

The 17-day performing arts festival will include more than 140 performances on stages throughout Charleston.

This year, the internationally known festival stages the opera “Kepler” by American composer Philip Glass. It’s the American premiere of the opera and commemorates Glass‘ 75th birthday.

Spoleto was established in Charleston in 1977 by the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti as a companion to his Italian Spoleto festival.