Encompass presents performances of 20th- and 21st-century opera repertoire and develops and produces new original works. Since 1975, when it was founded by director Nancy Rhodes, more than 50 full-scale productions, plus readings of more than 100 works-in-progress, have been offered.

Development of new works involves collaboration between writers and Encompass' artistic staff, in closed session or via concert readings of materials-in-progress, offered as public New Composers Salons to involve audience response, including post-performance discussion. Encompass normally offers two full-scale productions per season, plus two to four salons and additional concerts, seminars and special events, often with other companies. Encompass programming is devised to both serve and expand the audience. Original projects are also commissioned.