Baroque opera offers full immersion in the world of 17th and 18th-century culture with elaborate scenic design, virtuosic singing, stylized dances, colorful orchestras, and profoundly human stories. No other musical genre from this era has quite the same capacity to move, excite, and inspire audiences.
During the 2018/19 season, Ars Lyrica Houston offered its first full-length Baroque opera: Agrippina, Handel’s first operatic masterpiece. Ars Lyrica will stage an opera production every other season, with the double bill of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and excerpts from the Fairy Queen slated for the 2020/21 season.
Members of Ars Lyrica’s Opera Circle guarantee that we can keep our cultural stories and history alive. Your gifts allow us to make opera resonate anew through imaginative staging in collaboration with the world’s most respected experts in dance, theater, and music. Through your donations, we are able to grow the organization as curators and caretakers of this exceptional art form.
“Biennial Baroque operas present Ars Lyrica with a golden opportunity: to advocate for an exceptional and seldom heard repertoire, on par with major companies around the world.”
-Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Founder and Artistic Director
Ars Lyrica Operatic Highlights
Ars Lyrica’s second fully staged opera will be Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in May 2021.
Article and album: Grammy nomination for Best Opera 2011 for the world première recording of J.A. Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra featuring mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and soprano Ava Pine
Ars Lyrica Opera Circle sponsorships offer a range of benefits, including behind-the-scenes access to artists, recognition, special invitations to exclusive events, and much more. Please explore the options below for more information on specific sponsorship opportunities.
Production Guarantor: $15,000 and up
Production Guarantors help secure the future of Baroque operas by pledging a minimum of $15,000 annually with a three-year commitment. Production Guarantors receive special recognition and benefits, including invitations to Opening Night Dinners with principal artists, ALH Directors and Board, cast parties, backstage tours, VIP performance tickets, and complimentary valet parking.
Thank you to our Production Guarantors:
Robin Angly & Miles Smith
Gabriel & Sara Loperena
Stephanie von Stein & Dr. Mark A. Schusterman
Principal Artist Sponsor: $10,000 and up
Principal Artist Sponsors make a multi-year commitment towards principal artists to ensure the highest caliber of artistic excellence for ALH opera productions. Principal Artist Sponsors enjoy special access to the artists by hosting cast parties; they also receive VIP performance tickets, backstage tours invitations, and complimentary valet parking.
Thank you to our Principal Artist Sponsors:
Kathryn & Brendan Godfrey
Dr. Sippi and Ajay Khurana
Dr. Ellen R. Gritz & Milton D. Rosenau, Jr.
Artist Underwriter: $4,000 and up
Artist Underwriters provide vital multi-year funding for supporting artists and orchestra musicians. They receive invitations to cast parties, and backstage tours, plus VIP performance tickets.
Thank you to our Artist Underwriters:
Joan and Mike Weltzien
Sonja Bruzauskas and Houston Haymon
Supporting Producer (Costume/Set /Lighting/underwriter): $2,500 and up
Supporting Producers provide vital multi-year funding for productions staff, sets, costumes and lighting design. They receive invitations to cast parties and backstage tours, plus VIP performance tickets.
Thank you to our Supporting Producers:
Ed & Marianne Grusnis, The Antiquarium
Ed & Janet Rinehart
Liz Grimm & Jack Roth
Young Opera Circle Producer: $1,000 and up
Young Opera Circle Producers, an exclusive group for opera lovers under 45, receive all the benefits of the Supporting Producer level plus invitations to Young Opera Circle events.
Thank you to our Young Opera Circle Producers:
Darrin Davis & Mario Gudmundsson
Shane A. Miller
Praise for ALH’s Opera Circle
“Ars Lyrica’s vibrant and provocative performances of a historically informed repertoire speak to us as lovers of history and live music. Under a passionate artistic and professional team, they exemplify tradition and excellence in all they do.”
- Ed and Marianne Grusnis,
“We support Ars Lyrica because we found a unique passion within the organization that brings beautiful and rarely appreciated music to amazing life. We are also fully engaged in ALH’s exciting artistic vision of bringing baroque opera to Houston.”-Sara and Gabriel Loperena
“Ars Lyrica’s decision to stage a new production of Handel’s Agrippina immediately fired my imagination. As a life-long fan of baroque music in general and Handel in particular, I was determined to make a contribution to the success of a project so dear to my heart. Ars Lyrica's musical interpretation, the orchestra and soloists are always of the finest, and with Tara Faircloth as stage director, the result will be memorable. I am thrilled to underwrite her services - all that remains is for every lover of baroque music in Houston to come and applaud the results.”-Maurice Isaac
Praise for ALH’s operas
"...Theatrical works have become the calling card of Ars Lyrica... They seem to evoke inspired performances by the group.” -Houston Chronicle
“Faircloth imagines a Gatsby-era Game of Thrones, with glorious vocal fireworks in place of bloody swordplay.”-Arts & Culture Texas
“The music, under Matthew Dirst’s capable direction, soared, and the singer/actors delivered riveting performances.” -CKW Luxe
“Cohen’s voice boasted a warmth that few countertenors share; combined with the fluency and poise of his singing, his voice let Ottone’s arias exude forthrightness and nobility. The emotional climax came halfway through the story–when Ottone, though no fault of his own, suffers rejection by everyone around him. Cohen made Ottone’s response, “Voi che udite il mio lamento,” a musical portrait of desolation, from pianissimo phrases that were pale as death to surges of vibrant, plaintive sound.”-Texas Classical Review
“Stage director Tara Faircloth emphasized comedy, as in Claudio’s preening demeanor on his first entrance; Pallante and Narciso’s fawning over Agrippina; and the fluttering of the servant Lesbo, played by Eduardo Tercero. But for Handel’s serious moments–as in Ottone’s big aria,–Faircloth quieted everything down, and the poignant results helped Handel’s extraordinary music tell its story.”-Texas Classical Review
“Selowsky’s wealth of vocal colors brought Agrippina’s stratagems to life—whether the power-hungry woman was working her wiles on her admirers, relishing her successes or reacting to surprise twists of fate. Even her recitatives crackled.” -Texas Classical Review
For more information about sponsorship opportunities and benefits, please contact Kinga Ferguson, Executive Director, at 713-622-7443 or email@example.com
Praise for Agrippina
“Theatrical works have become the calling card of Ars Lyrica… they seem to evoke inspired performances by the group.” -Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle
“Dirst, conducting Ars Lyrica 19-member period-instrument group from the harpsichord, put the music’s energy and buoyancy in the forefront.” -Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review
“[Mezzo-soprano Sofia] Selowsky’s wealth of vocal colors brought Agrippina’s stratagems to life—whether the power-hungry woman was working her wiles on her admirers, relishing her successes or reacting to surprise twists of fate. Even her recitatives crackled. But Selowsky’s vigor and agility made the arias more potent still. The peak came in ‘Pensieri, voi mi tormentate,’ the mood-swing aria that breaks out when Agrippina’s plot runs into trouble. Selowsky ranged from half-tones that exuded fear to full-throated outcries, and she spun out pianissimo phrases that made time stand still.” -Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review
“Cohen’s voice boasted a warmth that few countertenors share; combined with the fluency and poise of his singing, his voice let Ottone’s arias exude forthrightness and nobility. [Countertenor John Holiday’s] tones were as laser-focused as Cohen’s were warm. The combination of brilliant sound and virtuoso agility turned Nerone’s scornful aria, ‘Come nube che fugge dal vento,’ into a burst of vocal fireworks.” -Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review
“Bass Timothy Jones brought Claudio’s arias a resonance and swagger that befitted an emperor. Baritone Brian Shircliffe and mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte sang with spirit as Pallante and Narciso, courtiers who get duped by Agrippina. “ -Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review