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What is an Encore?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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An encore is an additional performance which is performed after an event comes to an end, in response to audience demands for more. Encores are most typically seen in the context of musical performances, with the performers playing an additional song after the event has concluded, although dramatic performances can sometimes include encores as well. As a general rule, performers are very flattered to receive calls for an encore, as it means that the audience loved their work so much that they aren't willing to leave without hearing just a little bit more.

The word “encore” is French for again, although the French themselves prefer to call bis after a particularly good performance if they wish to hear an encore. Most performers plan ahead for encores, to ensure that all of the people on stage, along with the crew, will be ready if the audience demands an encore, and typically, the piece chosen is either a famous standard of the performer, or a notable selection from the performance which has just concluded.

On rare occasions, an audience demands a second encore after the first encore is complete, and performers may choose to go along with it, or bring the performance to a reluctant conclusion. Second encores are relatively rare, and a great honor. If a second encore is performed, typically a very calm piece is chosen, to encourage the audience to wind down and get ready to go.

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While encores usually happen at the curtain call, when all of the performers walk on stage to perform their bows and receive praise from the audience, an encore can also take place during a performance. This is extremely rare, occurring generally in the operatic world. If a star plans to perform an encore, he or she will discuss it with the cast and orchestra first, signaling the orchestra that he or she will perform an encore if the audience response merits it. This type of encore performance is done after a particularly challenging, beautiful, or distinctive aria, and some opera houses frown upon it.

In order for performers to offer an encore, the audience must offer sustained applause, and generally the performers also expect to see a standing ovation before they will perform an encore. Shouts of “encore” or “more” from the audience may also be viewed as a cue to perform an encore. Should the audience start to pack up or look restless during the applause, the performers will not grant them an encore, assuming that people are eager to get home.

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