donateButton2Since 1986 Nautilus (formerly The New Music-Theater Ensemble) has been dedicated to the development of new operas and other forms of music-theater, along with innovative productions of existing work. Our goals include the formation of partnerships between creators, performers, and audiences, and the creation of professional training programs for artists. We use music-theater as a tool to create enriching experiences for artists and audiences, supporting the individual and collective growth of the human spirit.

cast of Book of Days

Book of Days
Joan Barber, Timothy Sawyer, Gretchen Johnson, Marcia Bellamy, Paul Pruitt, Cynthia Lohman, and Stephen Kalm in BOOK OF DAYS (by Meredith Monk) 1988

“What distingushes Meredith Monk’s work [in BOOK OF DAYS] is not the well-worn plot but the complex and joyous ways she enriches experience with chanting, counterpoint, repetition, dense chords, and open lines… Monk’s vision, achieved through finely focused sound and gesture, pulses with the reality of genuine human emotion.”


Nautilus began in 1986 as a program of the Minnesota Opera and spun off independently in 1992. The following programs are some of the activities we offer throughout the year:

Artist Development:

We offer multiple training opportunities for artistic growth, including Performing Power classes for local performers, the annual Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute for performers, directors, and coaches (now in its 35th year), and a Composer-Librettist Studio (now in its 27th year), held here in the Twin Cities and other sites around the country.

Rough Cuts:

Rough Cuts is an informal series of works-in-progress, dialogues between artists and audiences, and explorations of the creative process. Repertoire includes projects under development by Nautilus, works by independent artists who need a performance venue, and partnerships with other organizations creating and presenting music-theater.


We continue to initiate the creation of new operas and other forms of music-theater, developing them all the way through to fully-staged productions. We perform at a variety of locations throughout the Twin Cities, in such venues as the Southern Theater or the Minneapolis Theater Garage — and most recently, in our own studio in Lowertown Saint Paul. On occasion we also present innovative productions of existing work.

Community Commissions:

This program seeks partnerships with organizations and individuals who are interested in engaging Nautilus artists to create music-theater or related developmental activities for their communities, such as corporate venues and social service organizations. We provide artists who create and perform, along with various workshops and classes.

Red Tide

Red Tide
Bradley Greenwald in RED TIDE (by Paul Selig and Kim Sherman) 1996

“Selig’s enigmatic text [for RED TIDE] has been beautifully set to music by Sherman, whose choice of instruments – piano, accordion, cello, and saxophone – gives the score warmth and richness. The long saxophone and cello duet that opens the opera is especially lovely.”


nau•ti•lus (naw´-tuh-luhs) n. [from the Greek nautautilos, literally, sailor, one who navi- gates or explores, esp. on the unknown sea; from root naus-, ship]. 1. A cephalopod mollusk with a spiral-shaped shell, consisting of a series of chambers created incrementally. Its geometric precision has inspired poets and artists for centuries. 2. The name of the world’s first nuclear submarine, made famous in 1958 for a non-stop voyage under the polar ice pack. It was christened after the underwater vessel of the same name from Jules Verne’s 1870 futuristic novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which tells the adventures of Captain Nemo, a wild-eyed, bearded fanatic. 3. An integrated exercise system designed to stretch and develop all of one’s muscles, resulting in greatly increased flexibility and strength. 4. The new name of the artists formerly known as The New Music-Theater Ensemble.

Last 5 Years

The Last Five Years
Norah Long and Bradley Greenwald in THE LAST FIVE YEARS
(by Jason Robert Brown) 2004

“Jason Robert Brown’s THE LAST FIVE YEARS is an insightful production… Brown writes songs that linger in the mind, and those songs are brought to vibrant life by two expert singer-actors, Bradley Greenwald and Norah Long, in this smart production directed by Ben Krywosz. [He] lets them tell their story clearly and with ample emotion… It’s a lovely show… As Broadway musicals get bigger, becoming more about machinery and product tie-ins than wit or genuine emotion, it’s refreshing to be reminded that small can be good — and maybe even better…”