“I want to live where corks never stop popping, every room has a view and women are always dressed to dazzle,” proclaims Audrey Tautou in the French chick flick Priceless.

To us, this is Spoleto.

The 17 days and nights of international inspiration and cultured chaos set the town ablaze. There is really nothing for the savvy Holy City-ite to do but put on your best flame retardant gear and fan the fire.

We know your Spoleto program has been well dog-earred and scrutinized, Spoleto SCENE, the must-join set of young arts patrons, has made its performa-party picks and the box office demand will weed out the last minute buyers – but here is a bit of insight from CHARLIE on the hip, sophisticated and just plain spolicious picks for 2011.

These selections are a compilation of Spoleto insider picks, past performance track records and a few solid hunches. We wouldn’t steer you wrong…

The Festival kicks off with Red Shoes, performed by the Kneehigh Theater Co., a Spoleto favorite with throwbacks including the 2006 Tristan & Yseult and 2009 Don John. This time they are putting their uncommon spin on the works of Hans Christian Andersen. It is sure to knock the knickers off any version you were read as a child.

A high brow Spoleto experience is not complete without an opera, and those willing to invest the energy in some solid subtitle reading will be all the better for it. The Medium is written by the Gian Carlo Menotti, Spoleto Festival Founder, and is being performed in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The slightly morbid portrayal of post-war Europe was a Broadway hit relocating to our own backyard. The Magic Flute is also getting great buzz.

Corella Ballet is getting the points for pretty this year. The synchronized elegance should have classicists dusting off their point shoes while keeping the trend spotters on their toes.

The music offerings this year are really what determine the men from the boys — taking the cake with a wide scope of not-to-miss shows!

13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests pairs indie-pop artists with rarely seen silent film portraits by the artist.

Sarah Jarosz, the Grammy-nominated, sweet young thing with a voice to reckon with, will make a one-night appearance.

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones pluck the gambit of folk, bluegrass, funk and jazz to meet the harmonious needs of even the harshest critic.

Perhaps the most buzzworthy of the 2011 offerings, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are set to have the Cistern Yard reverberating with high-energy beats.

No Spoleto Festival is complete without the Finale, so be sure to pack a picnic and head out to Middleton Place to wake up the grounds and light up the sky with the annual indulgence for the ears, eyes and soul.

Story by: Meredith Seimens*

*As Meredith heads to Kentucky. She leaves you these final words…
“It seemed only fitting to write my last piece for CHARLIE on Spoleto, as it is what initially brought me to Charleston and introduced me to its many unforgettable characters. For my final curtain call, I wish you each the same improbable escapades, accomplishments, friendships and good fortune. Keep the corks popping and see you soon!”

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