Over 35 Years of Excellence



Encompass the World of 20th Century Music Theatre

1975-76 Encompass Music Theatre bursts onto the American scene with a workshop production of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s THE MOTHER OF US ALL. The fully-staged version receives a Soho Weekly News Award for Excellence in the Creative Arts and is cited as  “one of the ten best productions of 1976.”

1977 Aaron Copland’s THE TENDER LAND and Gloria Albee’s THE YELLOW WALLPAPER consolidate Encompass’ position as New York’s premier venue for contemporary music and dramatic works.

1978 PANTALOON: HE WHO GETS SLAPPED by Robert Ward and Bernard Stambler, wins two Off-Broadway Opera citations from The Village Voice: Remarkable Performance (Raymond Hickman) and Design Concept (Michael Smith). Encompass produces Naomi Replansky’s new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s ST. JOAN OF THE STOCKYARDS, with additional music by Paul Kazanoff; WOMEN FOUNDERS OF THE AMERICAN THEATRE, 1910-1945 (works by Zona Gale, Hallie Flanagan, Sophie Treadwell, Rachel Crothers, Susan Glaspell, and Zoe Aikins); and Sophie Treadwell’s MACHINAL.

1979 Encompass’ sellout staging of Marc Blitzstein and Lillian Hellman’s REGINA wins critical acclaim as “one of the finest productions in New York City.”  FANTASIES TAKE FLIGHT: A NIGHT OF SHORT OPERA, with works by Samuel Barber, Charles Strouse, Sheldon Harnick, Lukas Foss, Peter Westergaard, and Tom Johnson debuts. The Composers/Librettists Lab is established. Encompass also serves up the world premiere of Howard Richardson’s A THREAD OF SCARLETT; the New York premiere of Jeffrey Sweet’s PORCH; and a new production of Carl Orff’s THE WISE WOMAN, which Cue calls “a musical dream, theatrical magic.”

1980 ELIZABETH AND ESSEX, a new musical by Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble, Doug Katsaros, and Richard Engquist, receives its finishing touches under the auspices of the Composers/Librettists Lab—and, to great applause, its world premiere starring Estelle Parsons. Other 1980 productions: POSTCARD FROM MOROCCO (Dominick Argento); Jack Beeson’s HELLO OUT THERE; and Hugo Weisgall’s THE STRONGER (based on the Strindberg play of the same name). First Stage First, the performing venue for the Composers/Librettists Lab, debuts.

1981 First Stage First returns for its second season. Encompass gives the American premiere of George Antheil’s 1920s jazz opera, TRANSATLANTIC, and the world premiere of Michael Feingold’s new translation of Heinrich Marschner’s DER VAMPYR.  Jose Luis Greco’s new opera, ARIA DA CAPO is fully staged for First Stage First.

1982 First Stage First has its third season of presenting new operas;  Encompass Music Theatre is invited to bring a production to the prestigious Holland Festival. ECCENTRICS, OUTCASTS AND VISIONARIES: A CENTURY OF AMERICAN OPERA makes Encompass the world ambassador of twentieth-century American opera.  AMERICAN PARLOR tours Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Roger Trefousse and Jane DeLynn’s THE MONKEY OPERA, developed in the Composers/Librettists Lab, receives its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

1983-88 Encompass artists work internationally on individual projects. Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes stages a new production of Virgil Thomson’s LORD BYRON at Lincoln Center for the composer’s 89th birthday; she also directs productions throughout Europe and West Asia including Death in Venice (Stockholm), Carmen (Oslo), Happy End (Finland), West Side Story (Istanbul), Kiss Me Kate (Ankara, filmed for Turkish Television) and she leads workshops in Musical Theatre in Norway, Holland, Turkey, and Korea.  She is elected Vice President and USA Delegate to the International Theatre Institute, Music theatre Division and is a Panelist and Speaker in Cuba, the former Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslavakia, Estonia, Spain, Germany (East Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf), Sweden, Venezuela and Argentina.  Musical Director Jack Gaughan conducts on Broadway and elsewhere in the U.S.

1989-91 New York audiences and critics welcome Encompass Music Theatre back home. The company receives critical acclaim for its workshop production of Sorrel Hays, Sally Ordway, and Nancy Rhodes’ THE GLASS WOMAN, a new work developed and written in the Composers/Librettists Lab. Diane Bulgarelli’s HELP IS ON THE WAY is given a musical reading. As part of Summerfest 91, Encompass performs KALEIDOSCOPE on the steps of the New York Public Library featuring American opera and musicals.

1992-93 ECCENTRICS, OUTCASTS, AND VISIONARIES—A Journey through the worlds of America’s idealists, dreamers, and romantics, featuring music by Bernstein, Bock, Gordon, Bolcom, Frishberg, Blitzstein, Floyd, Hoiby, Weill, Thomas and Thomson.

THE GLASS WOMAN, world premiere of fully staged workshop performances of a full-length new opera by Sorrel Hays, composer. Lyrics by Hays and Sally Ordway, Book by Ordway and Nancy Rhodes.  Co-produced with the Interart Theatre.

HARP AT SUNSET: Performance by classical harpist Bahar Goksu from the State Symphony of Ankara, Turkey. She was an Encompass International Guest Artist for one season.

1993-94 A Musical Toast to New Composers, featuring the music of Ricky Ian Gordon, excerpts from FLOYD COLLINS, a new musical by Adam Guettel, and DESERT OF ROSES, an opera by Robert Moran and Michael John LaChiusa.  Hosted by Sheldon Harnick.

DESERT OF ROSES, New York premiere of a new American opera by composer Robert Moran, and librettist Michael John LaChiusa, with orchestra at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

New Composers Salon, a performance for the International Theatre Institute Opera Division featuring music of Ricky Ian Gordon at the National Arts Club.

1994-95 New Composers Salon, hosted by Estelle Parsons and composer Adam Guettel. featuring the new opera ONLY HEAVEN, by Ricky Ian Gordon, with soprano Sherry Boone; THE MASTER AND MARGARITA by Margaret Pine with Tovah Feldshuh, DOWNTOWN BLUES FOR UPTOWN HALLS by Jack Gottlieb with soprano Meredith Stone, and songs from MOTHER COURAGE by Paul Dessau and Bertolt Brecht, performed by Estelle Parsons.

Encompass produces the world premiere of ONLY HEAVEN by composer Ricky Ian Gordon, poet Langston Hughes, and Concept and Direction by Nancy Rhodes.  Hailed by USA Today as “the best music heard all season,” ONLY HEAVEN played to sold out houses on 42nd Street’s Theatre Row.

1995-96  A Musical Toast to New Composers, kicked off the Fall season, featuring the music of Ricky Ian Gordon, including excerpts from THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, his new opera and works by Richard Pearson Thomas, Judith St. Croix, and Norman Noll at the Lambs Theatre.  Hosted by Estelle Parsons.

Encompass mounted the second performance ever in New York of Paul Bowles’ opera, A PICNIC CANTATA, fully staged, along with  a program of new songs by Richard Pearson Thomas, Lee Hoiby, Richard Peaslee, John David Earnest, and Mira J. Spektor.  A second New Composers Salon featured  a staged concert reading of HOME AND THE RIVER, a new opera of the Civil War by composer George Quincy and librettist Benjamin Barber with a cast of 14 singers. A third New Composers Salon, A Midsummer Eve’s Sunset Soiree featured Encompass composers Ricky Ian Gordon, George Quincy, and Richard Pearson Thomas, hosted by Sheldon Harnick..

Encompass was featured on the June LeBell Show, WQXR Radio’s ITT Salute to the Arts with interviews with Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes and composer Richard Pearson Thomas and performances of his music, sung by Karen Beardsley, Soprano, and Candy Joseph, Mezzo.

Encompass’ production of ONLY HEAVEN was presented at the 5th International Music Theatre Workshop in Munich, sponsored by the Gartnerplatz Opera and the German International Theatre Institute. Ricky Ian Gordon and Nancy Rhodes were invited to Munich to appear on a panel about the making of ONLY HEAVEN, as part of an international symposium featuring new opera written within the past 3 years and attended by worldwide producers and composers.  Highlights of ONLY HEAVEN were shown on video.

1996-1997 Opera America Honors Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes and Encompass Music Theatre for More than Ten Years of Distinguished Service to the field of opera.
The first New Composers Salon of the season began in July with a workshop of LADIES IN A MAZE, lyrics and music by Richard Pearson Thomas.  Encompass and The Waterbury Symphony join forces with a co-production of George Antheil’s 1920’s jazz opera, TRANSATLANTIC, staged with orchestra, soloists and chorus.

Encompass produces the world premeire of LADIES IN A MAZE at the Grove Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village for 19 performances.  Music and lyrics are by Richard Pearson Thomas.

The second New Composers Salon features 4 staged performances of HOME AND THE RIVER, a new opera of the Civil War by George Quincy and Dr. Benjamin Barber

1997-98 The season kicks off with a new musical based on Jane Austen’s novella, LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, Music and Lyrics by Stephen O’Leary.  HOME AND THE RIVER performs by invitation at the Shea Theatre as part of the Performing Arts Series at Suffolk Community College, Long Island.  A New Composers Salon features THE FATHER OF US ALL:  VIRGIL THOMSON AND HIS INFLUENCE ON TODAY’S OPERA COMPOSERS.  Selections from THE MOTHER OF US ALL (Stein/Thomson), MCTEAGUE (William Bolcom), SCOURGE OF HYACINTHS (Tania Leon), and TRAVELS (Victoria Bond) were featured in a co-production with The Greenwich Music House.

Encompass’Mainstage productions, OUT OF THE NIGHT AND INTO THE LIGHT feature MISS HAVISHAM’S WEDDING NIGHT by Dominick Argento and John Olon-Scrymegeour,  the world premiere of a new opera, OCEAN DREAM, music by Victor Kioulaphides, libretto by Nancy Rhodes, and the world premiere of I WILL WAIT, a new opera with words and music by Arif Mardin.

1998-99 VENUS IN AFRICA,  New York Premiere of George Antheil’s opera with libretto by Michael Dyne.  Performers include Elizabeth Keusch, Christopher Schumann, Ann Hoyt, David W. Jackson, Michael Reder and dancers, Ayla Yavin, Melissa Ngirailemesang, Danny Katz and Michael Anthony.  Performed with orchestra, Conducted by John Yaffe, Directed by Nancy Rhodes.

  • PHAEDRA, Opera by Benjamin Britten, libretto by Robert Lowell, from Racine’s PHAEDRA, with singer Elizabeth Keusch and dancers Ayla Yavin, Melissa Ngirailemesang and Danny Katz. This was the first time this work had been staged.  Performed with orchestra, conducted by John Yaffe, directed by Nancy Rhodes,
  • NEW COMPOSERS SALON – THE TALE OF THE TELL-TALE HEART, new opera by George Quincy featuring singers Deborah Anne Faw, Michael Douglas Jones, Timothy LaFontaine, Michael Lofton, Jeffrey Mandelbaum, Heidi Moss and conducted by Glen Clugston, with George Quincy at the piano.


  • THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS--An intimate opera cabaret featuring Masters of American opera and New Voices, New Visions.  Composers highlighted were Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, George Cory, Lee Hoiby, John Corigliano, Virgil Thomson, Douglas Moore, Marc Blitzstein, and Ricky Ian Gordon, Arif Mardin, Leo Edwards, Edward Thomas, Richard Hundley, and scenes from a new opera, THE AWAKENING, music by James Stepleton, libretto by Florence Ercolano. The evening was hosted by special guest singer Sherry Boone. Other featured singers were Juliana Janes-Yaffé, Michael Lofton, Lisa C. Mandelkorn, Pamelia S. Phillips, Patrick Rogers, Christopher Schumann, with pianist Jon Holden, conducted by John Yaffé, directed by Nancy Rhodes at La Belle Époque.
  • VIENNESE PROGRAM, performed by guest Dutch Soprano Dieuwke Aalbers, in a performance of works by Hayden, Mozart, Schubert, Wolf, Rossini, and Strauss, with pianist Paulette Hios.
  • THROW YOUR HEART AT THE SKY, performed by Soprano Juliana Janes-Yaffé with pianist Fabio Gardenal and featuring early cabaret songs of Arnold Schoenberg, cabaret songs of William Bolcom, and songs by Arlen, Bernstein, Bock, Gershwin, Kern, Merrill, Rodgers, Schmidt, and Sondheim.  The legendary Broadway arranger Peter Howard performed new arrangements of American music at La Belle Époque.
  • New Composers Salon features SCOURGE OF HYACINTHS, a new opera by Tania Leon, based on the play by Nobel prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka from Nigeria. Encompass performed highlights of Leon’s opera as part of The First Annual Lucille Field Goodman Fellowship Concert at the Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY, of MUSIC BY WOMEN COMPOSERS.  Featured singers were  soprano Luvada Harrison and baritone David A. Dorsey, pianist Beatriz Roman, and conducted by Tania Leon.
  • New Composers Salon features highlights from a new opera, THE AWAKENING, that Encompass is developing, based on the novel by Kate Chopin; music by James Stepleton, libretto by Florence Ercolano, produced by Encompass at the National Opera Association and Manhattan School of Music in their program,  FROM PAGE TO STAGE: DEVELOPING AND PRODUCING NEW AMERICAN OPERA.  Singers featured were mezzo Pamelia S. Phillips, tenor Patrick Rogers, and soprano Deborah Anne Faw with pianist Jon Holden.

2000-01 Opera America honors Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes and Encompass New Opera Theatre for Twenty-five Years of Dynamic Leadership in the field of opera.

  • UN RACCONTO FIORENTINO (A FLORENTINE TALE) is a new work written by Louis Gioia of New York. Based on a story by Giovanni Boccaccio, the piece features eight principles, forty musicians in the orchestra, and a thirty-two member chorus. Encompass presents the world premiere of the opera in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on October 13, 2000.
  • AUTUMN ALCHEMY, AN EVENING OF OPERA AND ART—Selections from ONLY HEAVEN, composed by Sondheim award-winner Ricky Ian Gordon, based on the poems of Harlem Renaissance literary figure Langston Hughes. The evening at the MB Modern Gallery featured singers Sherry Boone, Jonita Lattimore, Darius de Haas, and Michael Lofton, with Ricky Ian Gordon at the piano.  This program was a sneak-preview event for the 2001 season.
  • ONLY HEAVEN, a Mainstage production of a newly created version, music by Ricky Ian Gordon, based on poetry of Langston Hughes at the Connolly Theatre.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, Mainstage production, music and libretto by Grigori Frid, words from Anne Frank’s diary, Dunja Pechstein, soprano, directed by Nancy Rhodes, conducted by Sybille Werner, sets designed by Charles Townsend Wittreich, Jr., lighting by Izzy Einsidler -- May 12th and 15th, Temple Israel (New York Premiere).  Co-produced with MusicTales, 900 seats, 2 perfs.

Encompass commissions GERTRUDE STEIN INVENTS A JUMP EARLY ON by poet Karren Alenier and composer William Banfield and will present the developing work in a New Composers Salon. Also in development are THE AWAKENING, a new opera based on the novel by kate Chopin by composer James Stepleton and librettist Andrew Joffe, and TEDDY, a satirical but touching new opera with an environmental theme by Gary William Friedman, composer of the award-winning Broadway  musical THE ME NOBODY KNOWS with libretto by Herb Schapiro.  Both will be featured in a New Composers Salon.


GERTRUDE STEIN INVENTS A JUMP EARLY ON, a new opera co-commissioned by Encompass and The Word Works, composed by classical jazz composer William Banfield and librettist Karren L. Alenier.  July 12, 2001, at the Friendship Heights Village Center, Chevy Chase, Maryland.  200 seats, 1 performance.

TEDDY, a new opera by composer Gary William Friedman, libretto by Herb Schapiro, directed by Nancy Rhodes, co-produced by Amas Musical Theatre (originally scheduled for September 13th, re-scheduled to September 30th). 75 seats, 1 performance.

AMERICAN OPERA HIGHTLIGHTS: CultureFest 2001, sponsored by NYC and Company in Bryant Park.  Performing before an audience of over 1,000 people, Encompass presented highlights from American Opera including works by Leonard Bernstein with singers Ron Edwards, Tenor, Christopher Schumann, Baritone, and Sopranos Ann Hoyt, Dunja Pechstein, and Karen Sprung, with Jon Holden, Music Director at the Piano. 

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, music and libretto by Grigori Frid, words from Anne Frank’s diary, Dunja Pechstein, soprano, directed by Nancy Rhodes, conducted by Sybille Werner, sets designed by Charles Townsend Wittreich, Jr., lighting by Izzy Einsidler – January 10 – February 3, Connelly Theatre, 140 seats, 16 performances.

GERTRUDE STEIN INVENTS A JUMP EARLY ON by composer William Banfield, libretto by Karren L. Alenier, directed by Nancy Rhodes, produced by Encompass as part of New American Opera: From Page to Stage, sponsored by the National Opera Association and Manhattan School of Music.  Channel 13’s Midge Woolsey, Moderated discussions with the creators, March 10, Borden Recital Hall, 250 seats, 1 performance. New opera workshop.

THE LITTLE LAME PRINCE, music by Greg Pliska, book and lyrics by Jonathan Ward, directed by Nancy Rhodes, March 13-17; 20-24, a new family musical, co-produced with Abrons Arts Center, Henry Street Settlement at the Henry DeJur Playhouse, 250 seats, 10 performances.  Special performances were given to children and school groups.

TEDDY, a new opera by Gary William Friedman and librettist Herb Schapiro.  Co-presented by Encompass and Amas Musical Theatre at the John Houseman Studio Theatre, March 18 and 19, for 2 performances, 100 seats. 

Staged concert reading of the entire opera.

GERTRUDE STEIN INVENTS A JUMP EARLY ON, a new opera by composer William Banfield, libretto by Karren L. Alenier, produced by Encompass at The Culture Project Theatre, 45 Bleecker, as part of Women Center Stage, July 29, 2002.  299 seats, 1 performance.

APPROACHING INFINITY: A FULL MOON IN MARCH by John Harbison, based on a play by W.B. Yeats, vocal score by Randall Hodgkinson and THE END OF A WORLD by Hans Werner Henze. based on the play by W.B. Yeats.  March 7---30, 2003, at The Connelly Theatre, 120 seats for 15 performances.

New American Opera Previews: From Page to Stage, sponsored by the National Opera Association and Manhattan School of Music.  Encompass New Opera Theatre will present highlights from I tre Compagni (The Three Companions), a new opera, based on a story by Geoffrey Chaucer by composer Louis Gioia. Channel 13’s Midge Woolsey  moderated a panel discussion with the creative team.  March 16, 2003 at Borden Recital Hall, 250 seats, 1 performance. 

GERTRUDE STEIN INVENTS A JUMP EARLY ON by composer William Banfield, libretto by Karren L. Alenier (in association with The Word Works) June 7 and 8, 2003 at New York Spaces, 75 seats, 1 performance.  Post performance discussion with the creative team, musical director, stage director and singers. 

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, music and libretto by Grigori Frid, words from Anne Frank’s diary, produced by Encompass at the Suffolk County Community College Performing Arts Series, Ammerman Campus, October 8, 2003.  450 seats, 2 performances. 

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, staged concert of American Opera Highlights including works by Samuel Barber, Virgil Thomson, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Conrad Susa, Douglas Moore,  and New Voices, New Composers.  November 21, 2003.  150 seats at La Belle Epoque.

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, music and libretto by Grigori Frid, words from Anne Frank’s diary. Produced by Encompass New Opera Theatre, directed by Nancy Rhodes, conducted by Sybille Werner, paired with Come to me In Dreams, music by Lori Laitman, words and direction by David Bamberger. The Cleveland Opera, Ohio Theatre (1,000 seats), June 5 – 9, 2004. for 4 sold-out performances.