Encompass New Opera Theatre prides itself in creating a home for culturally diverse American artists in adventurous productions of contemporary American music theater and opera based on classic plays or written by new writers. Encompass strives to feature important pieces of 20th century American theater, nurture emerging artists, and premiere groundbreaking new productions. The company's artistic teams combine their own cultural diversity to form a shared dramatic vision that is truly American in spirit and, through a focus on the human condition, international in scope. Encompass has, since its inception in 1975, presented over 40 fully mounted productions with orchestra, and staged readings of over 100 new works.
Inherent in the Company's mission is a profound commitment to offer compelling theater that embraces the unique spirit and character of American culture. This philosophy is clearly illustrated in the production of new works as well as those not well known to contemporary audiences. Through this holistic focus on the theater arts, Encompass is able to reintroduce the world to works that resonate with pertinent social themes today.
Encompass New Opera's primary focus is to nurture emerging new talent while rediscovering playwrights, composers and librettists whose works received world premieres but who have thus far been denied contemporary recognition. Among the contemporary composers whose careers Encompass has helped galvanize are Ricky Ian Gordon, Adam Guettel and Michael John LaChuisa, all winners of the Stephen Sondheim award. In achieving its mission and vision, Encompass New Opera is guided by the following goals:
History and Background:
The Company's outstanding critical reputation and dedication to American artists has earned it considerable international recognition. In 1982, Encompass was invited to one of Europe's most prestigious venues, the Holland Festival, to present a portrait of contemporary American music theater. After the production in Amsterdam was met with critical acclaim, the Company's Artistic and Producing Director, Nancy Rhodes, was provided with a base from which to introduce European audiences to a wide spectrum of modern American theatrical and operatic pieces. Her accla imed productions throughout Europe, specifically in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Holland and Turkey, brought considerable attention to the high caliber of American theatrical work.
After ten years of international success, Nancy Rhodes returned to New York to re-establish Encompass Music Theatre, now Encompass New Opera Theatre. Since the early 1990s, the Company has renewed its work in New York City and with the acceptance of commissions and new productions, revivified its role as the standard bearer for American opera and music theater.
Unique to Encompass New Opera Theatre has always been the care and attention given to the creative process, and the importance placed on engaging an audience from the inception of an artist's vision. Encompass seeks to build long-term commitments to artists and new works by including audiences in the creative development process. Encompass' audiences return year after year to engage in Salon discussions and, as knowledgeable participants, to attend full-scale mainstage Company productions.
Encompass has steadily built its audiences on two continents in this way, an approach that is personal and, in the long run, of significant consequence to the arts. Encompass believes that this nurturing of audiences will lead to a deeper commitment and appreciation for the creative process. Together, artists and audiences can link their dreams and expressions at the highest levels of quality and creative imagination.
Encompass Production History:
In May 2000, OPERA America honored Encompass and founding Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes for "25 Year of Dynamic Leadership" in opera. Under the direction of Ms. Rhodes, the company has staged groundbreaking new works, including the world premiere of Michael Stewart, Richard Engquist and Doug Katsaros' Elizabeth and Essex, starring Estelle Parsons; American premieres of George Antheil's operas Transatlantic and Venus in Africa; Heinrich Marschner's Der Vampyr. Other notable productions include the Encompass award-winning production of Virgil Thomson's and Gertrude Stein's The Mother of Us All.
Productions in 2000-2001 included Un Racconto Fiorentino by Louis Gioia presented at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Only Heaven by Ricky Ian Gordon presented at the Connelly Theatre. In 2003, Encompass presented a double bill of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison's A Full Moon in March, based on a play by W.B. Yeats, paired with the New York premiere of composer Hans Werner Henze's The End Of A World, libretto by Wolfgang Hildesheimer (translated by Wesley Balk). In February, 2004, Encompass presented (as a co-production with After Dinner Opera) the premiere of Seymour Barab's comic opera (freely adapted from a play by W.S. Gilbert), with performances at the Nimoy/Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space. Most recently, the New York premiere of Grigori Frid's compelling opera, The Diary of Anne Frank, which went on tour in 2004 to the Cleveland Opera.
What the critics have said about Encompass:
"Encompass deserves the most vociferous praise for being so
dedicated to the promotion of the American lyric theater."
"This [Wise Woman] was one of the most enchanting events in
memory, a musical dream, theatrical magic, ...[the production] was
proof that you don't need big people and big places to accomplish
big things- you only need big imagination and talent."
"[Postcard from Morocco]... was thoughtfully conceived and executed
with the kind of ensemble polish one has come to expect from an Encompass