Rhonda & Donald Sweeney
Drs. Rachel & Warren Ellsworth IV
Gabriel & Sara Loperena
Michelle Stair and Carlos Sierra
Ars Lyrica's 2017/2018 season gala, A Roman Feast seeks to raise vital support for the November 2018 production of Handel’s opera Agrippina. Since incorporation in 2003, Ars Lyrica has given the local premieres of a number of major works by Handel, including La Resurezzione, Susanna, Il Trionfo del Tempo, and Jephtha. Our production of Agrippina will be our first full-length operatic endeavor and our most ambitious Handelian project to-date. The artistic and production costs alone amount to $100,000, of which 50% needs to be raised this season.
A Roman Feast takes place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 in the historic Esperson building in downtown Houston. The evening begins with cocktails at the contemporary Rusk Lobby, and will be followed by a musical performance in the neo classic Italian Renaissance Niels Lobby with an elegant dinner served in the Art Deco Mellie Lobby. The musical program will feature acclaimed countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, Ars Lyrica Artistic Director Matthew Dirst at the harpsichord, plus the Ars Lyrica ensemble.
Gala Ticket Package Purchase
Fill out the form below to purchase A Roman Feast Gala Tickets
Thank you to our Gala Sponsors:
Gabriel & Sara Loperena I Cameron Management I Morton's Steakhouse I CKW Luxe Magazine | Spindletop Design and Workhorse Printmakers | The Antiquarium Antique Maps and Prints Fine Custom Framing
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Attire: Black tie optional
- ESPERSON -
808 Travis Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Cocktails | Concert | Dinner | After Party
- 8-seat TABLE $5,000
- Single seat $625
AFTER PARTY EXCLUSIVE
After Party | Dancing | Open Bar | Bites
- $150 per couple
- $90 per single ticket
Donald & Rhonda Sweeney are retired ExxonMobil executives with a passion for music and opera. Donald's career spanned assignments in Japan, Singapore, New Jersey and Houston, managing Information Technology for oil business activities in Asia, as well as coal and minerals business activities in South America, Asia, and the United States. Rhonda's career in IT and Finance spanned roles in the Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals businesses. In 2013, the couple was awarded the Immanuel and Helen Olshan award for Vision, Leadership, and Commitment for their longtime support for the Texas Music Festival at University of Houston, and in 2015 were Honorary Chairs for Concert at the Villa, benefiting Catholic Charities’ AIDS ministry. As members of Houston Grand Opera's Leadership Council, the Sweeneys were underwriters for HGO's Ring Cycle operas and HGO's Lincoln Center Festival opera, The Passenger. In addition to her role as HGO Trustee, Rhonda is Houston District Director for the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions, and immediate Past President of Opera Volunteers International.
Drs. Rachel & Warren Ellsworth are avid supporters of the performing arts in Houston. Their love for the arts arose from Warren’s studies in music and background in Opera. His father, Warren Ellsworth III, was one of the first singers in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and Warren grew up in the opera houses around the world as his father’s career as a Wagnerian tenor blossomed. A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Rachel moved to Houston for her residency in surgery where she met Warren. Now a board certified Colon and Rectal surgeon, Rachel is a champion for the care of her patients in both Katy and the medical center. Warren’s career as a Plastic Surgeon combines his love of art and science in this creative field. As Chief of Plastic Surgery at Houston Methodist West, his practice specializes in breast reconstruction after cancer and cosmetic surgery. Warren and Rachel have enjoyed caring for their patients for over a decade while in practice. Their greatest love, however, is their young daughter, Isabel, who they welcomed in May of 2016.
Sara & Gabriel Loperena and their two children, Gabriel and Nina, call Houston their home. Sara is a native Houstonian and a graduate of Marymount University and St. Thomas University. She is founder, director, and president of The Book Cycle, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization that works to create a community of book lovers in Houston and beyond, organizing events where people can donate and take away books, all for free. Gabriel is originally from Venezuela and is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University. He is a corporate finance attorney with the Houston firm of Porter Hedges LLP. All of the family shares a deep and abiding love of the operatic arts.
Michelle Stair and Carlos Sierra met at a young professional’s art group several years ago and have been friends ever since. Michelle is originally from Dallas, a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington, and works as an office manager at Moritz & Associates. Since relocating to Houston, she has supported several performing and visual art organizations including: Ars Lyrica Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, among others. Carlos is a graduate of Florida International University and is Regional Director at Lodgic Hospitality. He serves on several organizations including: Treasurer and Board Member of Texas Business Travel Association; Board Member of Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; Program Director and Board Member of FIU Alumni Houston Chapter; Event Committee Member for Houston Grand Opera’s ONYP; among others. As single young professionals, both Michelle and Carlos stay active in the Houston Art scene.
About the Artists:
Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen has quickly been identified as one of opera and early music’s most promising rising stars. In 2017, he was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and First Prize Winner of the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition. In the 2017-18 season, he joins the Houston Grand Opera Studio, as the first countertenor in the studio’s history, for productions of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Strauss’ Elektra. He also joins American Bach Soloists for performances of Handel’s Messiah in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.
He made his European debut at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, singing the primo uomo role of Timante in Gluck's Demofonte with baroque ensemble Il Complesso Barocco. Additional credits include performances with the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Leipzig Barockorchester, the Venice Music Project, and the Newberry Consort. www.aryehnussbaumcohen.com
Ars Lyrica Founder & Artistic Director Matthew Dirst is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition (1990) and the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition (1993). Widely admired for his stylish playing and conducting, the Dallas Morning News recently praised his “clear and evocative conducting” of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, which “yielded a performance as irresistibly lively as it was stylish.”
Dirst’s recordings with Ars Lyrica have earned a Grammy nomination and widespread critical acclaim. His degrees include a PhD in musicology from Stanford University and the prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord from the Conservatoire National de Reuil-Malmaison, France, where he spent two years as a Fulbright scholar. Equally active as a scholar and as an organist, Dirst is Professor of Music at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, and Organist at St Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston. His book Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. He is also the editor of Bach and the Organ, which appears in the Bach Perspectives series from the University of Illinois Press in early 2016.
Esperson Photos by Mabry Campbell
MABRY CAMPBELL IS A FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS. HE WORKS IN BLACK & WHITE FUSED PRIMARILY WITH VERY LONG EXPOSURES TO CREATE IMAGES OF AN ALTERED REALITY SHAPED BOTH BY HIS VISION AND HIS DESIRE TO IMPRESS AN INITIAL MOMENT OF CONFUSION UPON THE VIEWER. HIS IMAGES ARE DEVOID OF DISTRACTION WITH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED SUBJECT PRESENCE. MABRY’S BLACK & WHITE FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY HAS GARNERED NUMEROUS INTERNATIONAL AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS SINCE 2013. HE EARNED HIS LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN AND HIS MBA FROM RICE UNIVERSITY. HE IS A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHERS + FINE ART GROUP, THE HOUSTON CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE TEXAS PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY. MABRY IS MARRIED WITH TWO DAUGHTERS.