CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Spoleto’s opening ceremony was washed out by the rain, but that didn’t stop the Holy City from celebrating the start of the festival’s first full season since 2019.

Spoleto Festival USA is welcoming Charleston to 17 days of glorious art after a two-year hiatus.

“The last two years have tested us and forced our resilience,” Spoleto Festival USA chair Alicia Gregory said.

Organizers say the focus of this year’s festival is having difficult discussions to help society grow and progress.

“I believe that art,” Gregory said, “while a source of jubilation, can also initiate tough, yet necessary conversations. To my mind, this year’s program creates an opportunity to have productive dialogue.”

One of the works set to encourage that dialogue is the opera Omar, which will have its world premiere Friday evening.

“Omar Ibn Said,” Omar director Kaneza Schall said, “a man who was stolen from his home in West Africa and his family, and forced to this country at gunpoint.”

Schall spoke on the importance of remembering to help create a better future for all.

“We will remember in order to touch the past and in order to carefully write the future,” she said.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg attended the inaugural Spoleto Festival and says it still brings him a lot of excitement decades later.

“I don’t know about y’all,” Tecklenburg said, “I’m feeling great today. We are going to have one fantastic Spoleto Festival in Charleston this year.”

Tecklenburg commended all performers for their tireless dedication to their craft before officially opening Spoleto Festival USA 2022.

“Let the singers sing,” he said, “let the dancers dance, let the musicians and children play and let the words of the poets and playwrights ring strong and true. The 46th Spoleto Festival USA begins now.”

The world premiere of Omar will take place Friday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m., inside the Sottile Theatre.