Encompass New Opera Theatre Announces Cast For World Premiere Of ANNA CHRISTIE

Encompass New Opera Theatre Announces Cast For World Premiere Of ANNA CHRISTIEEncompass New Opera Theatre will present the world premiere of Anna Christie with music by Edward Thomas set to a libretto by Joseph Masteroff, beginning on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 8pm, running through Sunday, October 21, 2018, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (at 55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues).

Nancy Rhodes is stage director and Julian Wachner conducts the Ionisation New Music Ensemble. Richard Pearson Thomas serves as Assistant Music Director, and set design is by Charles Wittreich, costume design by Angela Huff and lighting design by Colin Chauche. The cast includes Frank Basile (Chris Christopherson, Anna Christie's father), Jonathan Estabrooks (Mat Burke), Melanie Long (Anna Christie), Joy Hermalyn (Marthy Owen), and Mike Pirozzi (Larry the Bartender. A special 94th birthday celebration for Edward Thomas will take place on Sunday, October 7, immediately following the matinee, 3pm performance.

Anna Christie, based on Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning play explores the lost relationship of a woman and her father, and the sailor she falls in love with. The sea is a powerful symbol in the play and O'Neill having lived by the docks in New York City's waterfront, was acquainted with the sailors, booze, saloons and night life that he wrote about with such passion and authenticity. Abandoned by her father when she was five years old, Anna suffered a life of hardship and carries a dark secret from her past. An emotionally charged reunion with her father, a captain of a coal barge, intensifies when a merchant sailor is pulled from the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic on a foggy night. When the fog clears, Anna, the sailor and her father are caught in a riveting struggle between love and the sea, changing their lives forever. The play made its Broadway debut at the Vanderbilt Theatre on November 2, 1921 and was made into a 1930 Hollywood film starring Greta Garbo in her first talking picture.

About the Cast (alphabetical order)

Frank Basile, Bass (Chris Christopherson, Anna Christie's father) made his European debut in Turandot in Augsburg, Germany, and debuted with Washington Opera in The Saint of Bleecker Street directed by Gian Carlo Menotti. He continued his operatic career singing in houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Opera, Utah Opera, Nevada Opera, and Sarasota Opera. In 2010, Basile was featured as a soloist at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul where he sang excerpts from the title role of the new opera Leonardo's Bridge. He recently played Timurin in Turandot and was featured in the world premiere of A Certain Quiet. In January 2016, he performed the role of Peccavit in Encompass New Opera Theatre's premiere of The Astronaut's Tale by Charles Fussell/Jack Larson. He is a former member of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants.

Jonathan Estabrooks, Baritone (Mat Burke) is a Juilliard-trained opera singer and award-winning crossover vocalist, entertainer, and producer. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and with the Israeli, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto Symphonies. Estabrooks released his self-produced album, These Miles with the Macedonia Radio Orchestra in 2014. In 2017, with the NEA at risk, Estabrooks launched a petition on Change.org garnering 50,000 signatures. A petition turned to action and as Executive Producer of Artists For The Arts, he led a team of more than 150 artist-volunteers in a massive campaign, music video, and charity single of "With A Little Help From My Friends" featuring stars of stage, screen and YouTube. Released by Broadway records and on YouTube, the project was featured on NBC, Billboard, Broadway World, Broadway.com and other national news outlets.

Melanie Long, Mezzo-Soprano (Anna Christie) recently returned from Dubai, performing as Mercedes in New York City Opera's traveling production of Carmen. In 2015-16, she made her debut with New York City Opera as Ava in the East Coast premiere of Hopper's Wife, followed by Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with the Lidal North Workshop at the Oslo Opera House. Past seasons have included performances of Maria Stuarda at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Prince Orlofsky in the New York Opera Exchange production of Die Fledermaus, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte with Opera'r Ddraig in Cardiff, Wales, and Rosina in The Barber of Seville at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Ms. Long appears this season with the Des Moines Opera appearing as Petra in A Little Night Music.

Joy Hermalyn, (Marthy Owen) made her operatic soprano debut as Minnie in Fanciulla del West with the Utah Festival Opera. She has performed extensively throughout the United States in roles such as Venus (Tannhauser), Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Cora (The Postman Always Rings Twice), and Abigail (The Crucible). Ms. Hermalyn made her European operatic debut as the Countess/Page in Rigoletto at Spoleto, Italy, and has performed at the Festival d'Avignon in France. This season, she premiered the role of Roxie Claflin in Victoria Bond's Mrs. President for Anchorage Opera, and sang the lead role of the Little Dutch Boy in the premiere of John Sichel's Little Dutch Opera at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey.

Ms. Hermalyn completed the two-year run of the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof performing the role of Fruma Sarah. She made her Broadway debut as the Chaperone in Cyrano-The Musical and has also appeared in featured roles in Candide, A Christmas Carol and Puccini's La Boheme, as well as seen Off-Broadway at the Roundabout premiere of Maury Yeston's Death Takes A Holiday. She has also appeared in featured roles in numerous Encores! Productions at City Center and is a frequent performer at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

Mike Pirozzi, Actor (Larry the Bartender) following a career in finance was persuaded to do voice commercials from an actor friend, and at the urging of a casting director, began to study on camera and theater at Atlantic Acting Studio, Stella Adler, the Upright Citizens Brigade and the Wynn Handman studios. Pirozzi had a small role in the feature film, "Listen to Your Heart" (2009) and "That's What She Said" (2012) and starred as Tony Frappino in "The Frappinos". Pirozzi's credits include a "Christmas Carol" and the lead role in "Conversation with a Kleagle" at the 13th Street Repertory Company, and Juror #3 in "12 Angry Men" at Shelter Studios. He was the lead in the Off-Broadway interactive hit "The Boychick Affair." Pirozzi's writing credits include 11 screenplays, and 6 television projects in various stages of development.

About the Artistic Team

Nancy Rhodes and Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas, Composer, was born in Chisholm, Minnesota. He studied composition with Tibor Serly and spent the early part of his musical life as a guitarist and ensemble singer appearing on such network television programs as The Bell Telephone Hour, The Arthur Godfrey Show, The Jackie Gleason Show and Ernie Kovacs Show. From 1956-1969, in partnership with Gene Forrell he composed commercials and film music for advertisers such as U.S. Steel, T.W.A., Alcoa, Campbells, and Sealtest. Mr. Thomas wrote the score for a television special sponsored by General Electric called Return to Oz. In 1967, his String Quartet was premiered by the Harold Kohon Quartet at New York's Town Hall. Thomas is the composer of the opera Desire Under the Elms (from 1978) set to a libretto by Joe Masteroff that was produced at New York's City Center. The opera was later recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Manahan, featuring James Morris, Jerry Hadley and Victoria Livengood. The recording, nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award, was produced by Tom Shepard and released internationally in October 2002 on the Naxos American Opera Classics series. Thomas' Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra was premiered at Lincoln Center with the London clarinetist Sidney Fell and the Master Virtuosi of New York conducted by Gene Forrell. His Images for Oboe and Strings received its world premiere at the American Music Festival in Oklahoma, and his Fantasy for Two Clarinets was recorded in 2011 by Stanley and Naomi Drucker and the American Composers Orchestra conducted by George Manahan. Also, in 2011, Glenn Dicterow recorded his Reflections for Violin and Piano. His one-act opera, A Sunny Morning was recorded in 2012 by Judy Kaye and Tim Jerome. A Thomas/Masteroff collaboration, the musical Six Wives was produced by the York Theatre. His score for the musical Mata Hari with lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Jerome Coopersmith, was originally produced by David Merrick in Washington, DC and subsequently staged as Ballad for a Firing Squad at the Theatre de Lys and at the York Theatre in New York City.

Joseph Masteroff, Librettist, was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University. During World War II he served in the United States Air Force. He studied with the American Theatre Wing from 1949-1951 and began his career as an actor making his Broadway debut in the 1953 production of The Prescott Proposals. Following a national tour, Masteroff's first play, The Warm Peninsula, opened on Broadway in 1959 with Julie Harris, June Havoc, Farley Grainger and Larry Hagman. In 1963 he wrote the book for the Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock musical She Loves Me, which garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Author of a Musical. Three years later, when Hal Prince gained control of the rights to John Van Druten's play I Am A Camera and The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood, he discarded the book for a musical adaptation already written by Sandy Wilson and hired Masteroff to write his own. With lyrics and music by Kander and Ebb, Cabaret won the Tony for Best Musical. Masteroff also has written the libretto for an operatic adaptation of Eugene O'Neil's Desire Under the Elms and the book and lyrics for the musicals Six Wives and Paramour.

Nancy Rhodes, Stage Director, is recognized internationally as a champion of new music theatre and American opera since founding Encompass New Opera Theatre with an award-winning production of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein's The Mother of Us All. She staged Copland's The Tender Land, Thomson's Lord Byron at Alice Tully Hall, Blitzstein's Regina, John Harbison's A Full Moon in March, an acclaimed production of Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank, nominated for Artistic Excellence by Ohio Live, and directed productions in Europe and Asia, including Death in Venice in Stockholm. Carmen in Norway, A Century of American Opera for the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, and West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate in Istanbul and Albania, filmed for television. She staged the world premieres of Kirke Mechem's Tartuffe for San Francisco Opera and Ricky Ian Gordon's opera, Only Heaven. In recent seasons she directed Evan Mack's Angel of the Amazon at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Richard Pearson Thomas' opera A Wake or a Wedding, and in January 2016, she staged The Astronaut's Tale by Charles Fussell/Jack Larson at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, BAM Fisher. She is the librettist for The Theory of Everything, a new opera exploring science and alternative universes with music by John David Earnest.

Julian Wachner, Conductor, was named one of New York City's "10 Imagination-Grabbing, Trailblazing Artists of 2014" by WQXR. He enjoys an international profile as conductor, composer and keyboard artist. Following an acclaimed premiere last season at the San Francisco Opera conducting Handel's Partenope, Wachner also directed Handel's Saul in a fully-staged version for New York's Twelfth Night Festival; conducted for the Prototype Festival, and at Carnegie Hall led a premiere of Alberto Ginastera's Turbae ad passionem gregorionem with choruses from Trinity Wall Street, the National Cathedral Choir and the Washington Chorus, alongside Ive's Fourth Symphony. As Director of Music and the Arts at New York's Trinity Wall Street, Wachner oversees an annual season of hundreds of events, including staging Trinity's weekly series Bach-at-One, and leading Campline-by-Candlelight. In addition, Wachner curates Concerts-at-One, for Lower Manhattan and beyond through its HD live webcasting. He serves as the Principal Conductor of NOVUS NY (Trinity's resident contemporary music orchestra), the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the choir of Trinity Wall Street.

About Encompass New Opera Theatre

One of the nation's leaders in championing new music theatre and American opera, Encompass is celebrating its 40th season dedicated to creating developing and producing adventurous productions of new music theatre. Striving to discover and nurture emerging singers, composers, librettists, and musicians; premiere groundbreaking new productions, and revive important 20th century musical works by American and international composers, Encompass has produced more than 63 full-scale opera productions with orchestra and staged readings of more than 165 new works. Encompass was founded by Nancy Rhodes and Roger Cunningham, and most recently performed at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, BAM Fisher in January 2016, with the New York premiere of The Astronaut's Tale by Charles Fussell and Jack Larson. Encompass productions have been performed at the Baruch Performing Arts Center (Richard Pearson Thomas's opera, A Wake or a Wedding); Baryshnikov Arts Center (world premiere of Evan Mack's Angel of the Amazon); Elebash Recital Hall (Four Saints in Three Acts, 75th Anniversary); Symphony Space (Ned Rorem's Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters and Virgil Thomson's Capital Capitals, John David Earnest/Nancy Rhodes' concert reading, The Theory of Everything, and Philip Hagemann's Shaw Sings); and at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater Louis Gioia's opera, I tre campagni, and at Alice Tully Hall (Louis Gioia's Un Racconto Fiorentino), as well as regional tours at the Cleveland Opera of (Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank), and Paradigm Shifts, Music, Opera and Film Festival in partnership with Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and performed in Seoul, Korea. Encompass productions were featured internationally at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, and Ricky Ian Gordon's Only Heaven performed at the 5th International Music Theatre Workshop in Munich.

Tickets for Anna Christie, priced at $59 (premium ticket); $36 (general) and $16 (student) are available by going to www.encompasstheatre.org. BOX OFFICE: Toll Free (866) 811-4111. All performances take place at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. The entrance is on 25th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues. Performances will be on Thursday, October 4, 11, and 18 (8pm); Friday, October 5, 12 and 19 (8pm); Saturday, October 6, 13 and 20 (8pm); and Sunday, October 7, 14 and 21 (3pm).

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