What do opera, slavery, and foreign invasions have in common? First, each of these seemingly-unrelated topics contributed mightily to the storied fabric of Charleston’s cultural heritage. Secondly, as you might have guessed, each of these topics will be featured in this month’s calendar of events. Thirdly, there is more cross-fertilization between these topics than you might imagine, and I guarantee you’ll find links between them all if you join me for these upcoming presentations. Charleston history is indeed a strange and wonderful mix of good and evil, the banal and the unexpected.
Opera In Charleston, Part 2: After the Revolutions
Continuing our series on the history of opera in the Palmetto City, we begin in the aftermath of the American Revolution, when most people in South Carolina had little use for the dramatic arts. Thanks to the influx of refugees fleeing revolutions in France and Saint Domingue (Haiti), however, Charleston’s cultural life was soon enlivened by a number of talented performers looking to start their careers anew. Over the next quarter century, the city’s theaters resounded with French operatic excerpts, mingled with the latest melodramatic novelties from the London stage and a bit of nationalistic tension for good measure.
- Saturday, 10 September at 1 p.m., 2nd Floor Classroom, Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401
Escaping Slavery in Early South Carolina
Last autumn I created a summary of the four principal paths out of slavery in eighteenth and early nineteenth century South Carolina. The response was very positive, and the program led to a number of very interesting and productive conversations about some little-known aspects of slavery. In response, I wrote an essay about the topic and made a recorded version of my presentation (see my post from September 2015). I’m happy to report that I’m going to offer the program again on John’s Island, where I hope we’ll be joined by a number of 8th-grade students from Haut Gap Middle School!
- Tuesday, 13 September at 11 a.m., John’s Island Regional Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455
Invasion 1706: South Carolina vs. France and Spain
This month we celebrate the 310th anniversary of one of the most dramatic and defining moments in South Carolina history, which almost no one remembers. In September 1706 a fleet of French vessels carrying Spanish soldiers and their Indian allies sailed into Charleston harbor and curtly demanded that the English surrender the town. The English colonists laughed at this request, rolled up their sleeves, and spent the ensuing six days driving the invaders out of Carolina. Thanks to the valiant efforts of our militia, and the strength of our fortifications, Charleston was not lost, and the colony of South Carolina persevered. It’s an exciting story of action and international intrigue that every Sandlapper should know!
- Wednesday, 21 September at 6 p.m., Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401
Questions? Drop me a line at butlern[at]ccpl.org or call 843–805–6968 for more information.