October 25 - 30, 2011
Tirana, Albania


Encompass Tenors Performed Internationally
in "Tre Tenoret" Concert Broadcast on New Year's Day!

Read about the event

Albania Event
Elizabeth Lewis of the American Embassy in Albania wrote us on December 27th:
“Eapen and Matt were extraordinary!  And the concert was a smashing success.  Thanks for your pivotal role
in making it happen for us.   The concert will be broadcast on Albanian Public Television on New Year’s Day. 
Our heartfelt thanks to you for all of your help in finding such wonderful tenors.”

Tirana, Albania — 2014

Robert Balonek

Robert Balonek, Baritone  Hailing from Rochester NY, Robert always had a love for music.
Robert went to SUNY Purchase College in Westchester where he started training with his first teacher, Jacque Trussel. During this time he performed The title roles in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Gianni Schicchi.

He also performed Ottone in Poppea, both Ferdinand and Prospero in the NY Premiere of Lee Hoiby's The Tempest, as well as the world Premiere of Raphaël Lucas' Confession.

 After Purchase, Robert moved to Manhattan where he received a professional studies diploma from Mannes School of Music under the tutelage of Bonnie Hammilton. Robert performed Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte as well as  Ford in Falstaff.  in 2013, Robert was in collaboration with new composers such as Zachary Johnson (Boston Tea Party Opera) Gerald Cohen (Steal A Pencil For Me) and Stefnia DeKenessey (Bonfires of the Vanity).

Tirana, Albania
November 23, 2013 — December 2, 2013

In 2013, Encompass New Opera Theatre hosted two singers from the United States who will perform on National Albanian Television in a worldwide classical opera competition, established by Albanian producer, Zana Cela.
Elizabeth Baldwin

Elizabeth Baldwin, Soprano has studied at the Boston University Opera Institute and holds a Masters of Music degree in Vocal and Opera Performance from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, where she studied with Metropolitan Opera stars Carol Vaness and Timothy R. Noble. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Some of the major roles Ms. Baldwin has performed include:  Micaëla (Carmen); Countess (Le nozze di Figaro); Arabella (Arabella); La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi); Mrs. Webb (Our Town); among others.  She is currently preparing the title role in Puccini’s Tosca at Kentucky Opera.

On the concert stage, Ms. Baldwin performed the soprano solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Boston’s Symphony Hall and was the only vocalist in Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood On Parade 2010 concert where she sang selections from John Williams’ Seven For Luck with orchestra, in front of an audience of 15,000 people

Ms. Baldwin has participated in several opera programs including the San Francisco Merola Opera Program (2012), Chautauqua Opera Studio Artist Program (2006), and Virginia Opera Emerging Resident Artist Program (2009-2010 & 2011-2012). She participated in the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s “The Song Continues…2009” with Maestro James Levine at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Ms. Baldwin was a 2012 Semi-Finalist in New York’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions competition, as well as a 2011 Grand Prize winner in The William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation competition. She won First Place in both the National Orpheus Vocal Competition (2011) and The Heida Hermanns International Voice Competition (2010), among others.

José Rubio, Baritone

José Rubio, Baritone  Internationally acclaimed Baritone performs at major and regional venues across the country.  He recently made his Carnegie Hall Recital Debut and The Opera Insider proclaimed that the "...recital was nothing short of stellar." describing the performance as " hour of intensely passionate singing and playing.  It could have gone on forever without complaint." 

Mr. Rubio's recent engagements include Cincinnati Opera, to reprise his roles of the Priest and 3rd Cardinal in Galileo Galilei, Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte for Tacoma Opera, Bob and Ben in The Old Maid and the Thief, and The Telephone with Brava!

Opera Theater, Marcello in La Bohème and Le Mari in the US premiere of the Benjamin Britten adaptation of Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tiresias with Vespertine Opera, and a return to Portland Opera for the West Coast Premiere of Galileo Galilei, by Philip Glass.  He made his New York City operatic debut to great acclaim in Angel of the Amazon by Evan Mack,  a world premiere production with Encompass New Opera Theatre; and he can be heard on Albany Records' recording of the Encompass Opera premiere.  

In the summer of 2011, he performed the title role of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Music Academy of the West, and Mr. Rubio was selected as runner up  in the prestigious Marilyn Horne Song Competition.  In 2010 he completed a 2-year engagement as a Studio Artist with the Portland Opera where he performed and covered over twelve roles for the mainstage, including: Schaunard in La Bohème, Sam in Trouble in Tahitti, Mercurio in La Calisto, Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Marullo in Rigoletto, Barone Douphol in La Traviata, and Tancredi in Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.  His other leading credits include; Marcello in La Bohème, the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Rappaccini in La Hija de Rappaccini, Papageno in The Magic Flute, and Masetto in Don Giovanni.

He received his Artist Diploma and Master’s degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and holds a Bachelor’s from the University of Washington.

In 2011, Encompass New Opera Theatre hosted Sara Heaton (soprano) and Ricardo Rivera (Baritone) from the United States who performed on National Albanian Television in a worldwide classical opera competition, established by Albanian producer, Zana Cela.

Ricardo Rivera was highly regarded by the Jury Members for his talent and fine singing. He was one of the Finalists and he gave a great performance, and he was an audience favorite too.

The American Embassy Public Affairs Officer, Elizabeth Lewis, attended the two performances, and she was delighted. We thanked her and the Embassy for their support of our singers.

Sara Heaton, Soprano - hosted by Encompass New Opera Theatre in the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition 2011 in Tirana, Albania 1st Place Winner
Sara Heaton
Ricardo Rivera, Baritone - hosted by Encompass New Opera Theatre in the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition 2011 in Tirana, AlbaniaFinalist
Ricardo Rivera


Photos from the competition:

Marie-Kraja-Tirana_Zana-Cela-creator_2011-10-30 Marie Kraja Winners onstage with Zana Cela (Producer), Sara Heaton, the Mayor of Tirana, Luca Targetti (Jury Member, La Scala Opera), and Inva Mula (opera singer from Albania) Nancy Rhodes, Curro Carreres (Jury member from Madrid), Sara Heaton, Danus Luknisova, Agent from Italy and Jury Member Nancy Rhodes, Elizabeth Lewis, Public Affairs Officer from the American Embassy, Sara Heaton

Marie-Kraja-Tirana_Luciana-Distante-and-Nancy-Rhodes_2011-10-30 Marie-Kraja-Tirana_US-Embassy_Sara-Heaton_Lady-Kysykova_Alfonso-Gomez_2011-10-30 Encompass First Place Winner Sara Heaton onstage with the Mayor of Tirana, Albania, who is presenting her with her award


Jury Members for the
Marie Kraja International Singing Competition
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Inva Mula
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Luca Targetti
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Cecilia Gasdia
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Curro Carreres
Inva Mula
(International opera singer, originally from Albania)
Luca Targetti
(Casting Director, of La Scala,
1997 - 2010
Cecilia Gasdia 
(International opera singer, from Italy)
Curro Carreres
(Director de Escena Lirica: Opera & Zarzuela, Madrid)
2011 Marie Kraja International Singing Competition - Jury Member - Giovanna Lomazzi
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Danusa Luknisova
2011 Marie Kraja Jury Member, Nancy Rhodes
Giovanna Lomazzi
(Vice-President, Aslico Ospite a Capri Opera Festival & Competition for young opera singers of Europe, Italy)
Danusa Luknisova
(General Manager, Arte Musica Italia, Societa cooperativa di rappresentanza artistica)
Nancy Rhodes
(Artistic Director, Encompass New Opera Theatre, New York City)
Mr. B. Saphiu
(singer and professor of music, Albania)

The 2011 Winners
of the
Marie Kraja International Singing Competition

FIRST PLACE Sara Heaton, Soprano, USA - hosted by Encompass
SECOND PLACE Luciana Distante, Soprano, Brazil
THIRD PLACE Lada Kysykova, Soprano, Kazakhstan
Arjol Xhaferri, Bass, Albania
Special Prize for
Albanian Singers
Klodian Kacani, Tenor
Arjol Xhaferri, Bass
FINALIST Ricardo Rivera, Baritone, USA - hosted by Encompass






Encompass New Opera Theatre hosted dramatic soprano Othalie Graham in the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition in 2010Finalist:
Othalie Graham,
Dramatic Soprano
Encompass New Opera Theatre hosted Joo Won Kang in the Marie Kraja International Singing Competition in 2010 Finalist:
Joo Won Kang,



Michelle 3rd Place Winner:
Michelle Trovato,
Lyric Coloratura Soprano





Michael 1st Place Winner:
Michael Anthony McGee, Baritone