What We Look For : Kathy Olsen, Encompass Arts

If you’ve recently watched television or attended an opera or a musical, you’ve likely seen a talented performer from Encompass Arts. Katherine Olsen, the acclaimed coach/accompanist, has collaborated with the world’s top opera stars like Ben Heppner, Leona Mitchell, Sherrill Milnes, Cheryl Studer, Gary Lakes, Barbara Daniels, Harolyn Blackwell, John Cullum, Lisa Vroman, Marcello Giordani. 

While working closely with Baz Lurhmann as the principal coach and artistic administrator for the Tony Award-winning production of La Boheme, she made meaningful connections and gained invaluable casting credentials. These experiences, combined with her extensive training and decades of top-level performing, armed her with the secret sauce to launch her own artist roster. 

Focusing first on booking her opera clients in prestigious companies like The Met and La Scala, Olsen eventually expanded the scope of her company to include dazzling crossover performers in theater, film, commercials, television, and Broadway. For the latest edition of our “What we look for” series, Kathy recently shared her three most desirable traits for any singer seeking representation from an innovative agent. 

 

  1. Kindness. Relationships are everything in our tiny opera family. I want to collaborate with artists that bring a smile to everyone’s face. The relationship between a manager and client is a walk together, not a sprint. When you sign with a manager, be a “gamer.” Careers reveal themselves to you as you work. Small-mindedness is crippling. You may discover your favorite role is something you had no idea would be right for you. 
  2. Integrity of text. I was a coach for many years. When I hear a singer, I want to understand what they are saying to me. Words are far more important than tone. You will be working with people from all over the globe. 
  3. “I Want Magic”- Just like the aria says, we can only hope to serve these great masterpieces minimally. If a turn of phrase can make me cry or smile, that is the magic for me. Great voices can come from the hills of Tennesee or Throgs Neck in the Bronx. Storytelling is everything. Remember to “play” your roles. Playing implies FUN. The business is challenging. The actual act of singing should bring you tremendous joy.

 

To find out more about Katherine Olsen and her roster, visit encompassarts.com.

Jonathan Blalock

Jonathan Blalock has sung with The Santa Fe Opera, The Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, The Pacific Symphony, Memphis Symphony, PROTOTYPE Festival and Opera Hong Kong. He currently serves as The Associate Director of Development for Major and Planned Gifts at The Atlanta Opera, and he is a member of the Classical Singer Magazine editorial board.