For only its second dip into black-tie gala waters, Mercury Baroque did swimmingly well at Wortham Theater Center Friday night when 400 patrons gathered for dinner, dancing and a bit of Baroque music.
There was a sweetness to the evening that more high-falutin' arts groups have somehow outgrown. There was little posturing and even less preening among the loyal supporters of the group whose audience following is a youthful twentysomething to fortysomething crowd. Of course, with more than $100,000 raised, there was a substantial number of established professionals in the mix. Consider, for starters, gala chairs Deana Blackburn and Janine Iannarelli and honorary chair Martha Turner.
The threesome orchestrated "A Knight in Verona," a whimsical evening that evoked carnival vibes with tabletop centerpieces that featured festive masks. Projections of Verona provided overtures of Italy. In a festive mood, the Mercury Baroque musicians donned masks for their performance.
The entertainment was under direction of ensemble founder Antoine Plante. What a pleasant surprise when soprano Ana Trevino-Godfrey began singing from the balcony overlooking the foyer and, as she sang, made her way down the stairs, through the dining area and onto the stage. Dance was part of the evening as well with artists from Dominic Walsh Dance Theater performing with the ensemble. Even emcee Linda Lorelle joined the line-up, swirling across the floor with her dance partner Joe Lozano.
On a special note, Plante conscripted his parents, Gilles Plante and Diane Plante, who have their own Baroque music ensemble in Montreal, to perform during the reception on period instruments and in Renaissance costume.
The gala honored JP Morgan Chase & Co. with the Mercury Baroque Maestro Award, which was accepted by Marty Goossen, president for the Houston region.