Ars Lyrica: 2017-2018 Season Gala:
A Roman Feast
Photography by Annie Mulligan
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On the evening of Saturday, March 3, 2018, the historic Esperson building in downtown Houston provided the elegant setting for the Ars Lyrica 2017-2018 season gala, A Roman Feast. The event sought to raise vital support for the company’s November staging of the opera, Agrippina, by Handel. The production is a major endeavor and will be Ars Lyrica’s first staging of a full-length opera. Since its incorporation in 2003, the company has presented the local premieres of many major works by Handel. They include La Resurrezione, Susanna, Il Trionfo del Tempo, and Jephtha. The ambitious Agrippina will have production costs of $100,000.
Drs. Rachel and Warren Ellsworth IV and Gabriel and Sara Loperena chaired the evening of music and glamor, which honored Rhonda and Donald Sweeney. The after-party chairs were Michelle Stair and Carlos Sierra.
Guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres accompanied by delicate harp music in the Esperson’s Rusk Lobby, which was filled with fragrant lavender, ferns, and Romanesque décor. An intimate concert of Handel arias, performed by acclaimed countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen; Ars Lyrica Artistic Director, Matthew Dirst on harpsichord; and violinist Alan Austin, followed in the Niels Lobby. Guests were then seated for a Roman feast, which was served in the Mellie Lobby. Afterward, everyone returned to the transformed Niels Lobby for an Italian-themed disco party. Here they were treated to dancing, drinks, late-night bites, and craft beer. The latter was sponsored by Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.
Ars Lyrica is delighted to announce that the evening surpassed its fundraising goal for its fall production of Agrippina.
Gala sponsors included Cameron Management at the Esperson, 1001 McKinney, CKW LUXE Magazine, Spindletop Design, Workhorse Printmakers, The Antiquarium, and Gabriel and Sara Loperena.
Guests: Rhonda and Donald Sweeney, Sara and Gabriel Loperena, Drs. Rachel and Warren Ellsworth IV, Michelle Stair, Carlos Sierra, Darrin Davis and Mario Gudmundsson, Stephanie Von Stein and Dr. Mark Schusterman, Tatiana Galitzine and Guillermo Sierra, Perryn Leech, Sixto Wagan, Andrew Davis and Corey Tu, Lauren and Brandon Abel, Emily Schreiber, Jano and John Kelley, Liam and Meredith Bonner, Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, Bradley Moore, Anna Kaplan, Trey and Katherine Brady, Dougal and Cathy Cameron, Jennifer Blanco, John Earles, Ed and Marianne Grusnis, Judy Nyquist, Farida Abjani, Diana Collins, William and Teresa Reading.
About Ars Lyrica
Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. The company also appears regularly at major festivals and conferences. Ars Lyrica’s distinctive programming favors Baroque dramatic and chamber works, and its pioneering efforts have won international acclaim. The ensemble’s world première recording of Johann Adolf Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra, hailed by Early Music America as “a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality,” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera 2011.