Spotlight on Opera is in its 9th season as Texas' premiere summer opera training program. We are dedicated to providing training and performance opportunities to career track and avocational singers aged 15 and up.

Founded in 2007 by Program Director Cindy Sadler, Spotlight began as a one week summer program at St. Edward's University. The program expanded quickly and by 2010 went fulltime, acting as a community opera troupe in the fall and spring and a training program for aspiring singers in the summer, a model we continue today.

Spotlight on Opera is open to classical singers aged 15 and up, whether they are well on their way to a place on the professional stage or just want to dip their toes in wonderful world of opera. Our caring staff of professional opera singers, pianists, and educators works with each singer to provide guidance and growth as an artist. We strive to give every singer a chance to experience the spotlight for themselves, and to bring our audience members creative, fun, intimate, and high quality performances. For information about auditioning for Spotlight, please see the Program Info page.



Gianni Schicchi
Suor Angelica

The Medium
A Hand of Bridge
The Telephone
Trouble in Tahiti
Le nozze di Figaro (Acts I & II)
Cavalleria rusticana

Dido & Aeneas

Cosi fan tutte
Little Women
Suor Angelica
Abu Hassan

The Rape of Lucretia
The Ballad of Baby Doe

Le nozze di Figaro
The Crucible


Opera Scenes Showcase

Opera Scenes Showcase

Song Café (two different programs) , Opera Scenes Showcase, French Repertoire Concert

Sing to Love Valentine's Concert, Let's Hear it for the Boys Opera Scenes Showcase, Song Café (two programs), Aria Extravaganza Concert, Opera Scenes Showcase, Opera Gala

Sing to Love Valentine's Concert, Opera Scenes Showcases I & II, Song Café , Aria Extravaganza Concert, Aria by Design: Program It Yourself Concert

Sing to Love Valentine's Concert, Opera Scenes Showcase, Acts of Love & Desperation (Act I L'amico Fritz; Dido & Aeneas; Act III Tosca), Opera Scenes Showcases I & II , Song Café, Aria Extravaganza, Season Preview Concert, Opera Ambassadors Concert, Aria by Design, Fright Night at the Opera, A Rose in Winter

Sing to Love, Arabian Nights (Abu Hassan, scenes from L'italiania in Algeri, Abduction from the Seraglio, The Rose of Persia), House Concert, Opera Ambassadors Concert, Season Preview Concert, Aria Extravaganza, Mostly Mozart Opera Scenes Showcase, Fetes & Funerals Opera Scenes Showcase.
Aria by Request, Diva Fits Opera Scenes Showcase, Professional Development Series: Gioacchino Lauro LiVigni Master Classes; Marc Verzatt Master Classes

Professional Development Series: Steven Crawford Master Classes, Il trovatore readthrough, House Concert, Song Café (old folks home), Viva Verdi., Shakespeare at the Opera, Aria Extravaganza, Stone House Vineyard concert, Storm & Romance Scenes in Hallettsville, Mischief & Mayhem scenes


Cindy Sadler

CINDY SADLER, Director. Mezzo-soprano Cindy Sadler is well-known in the classical community as a singer, teacher, writer, and consultant; and increasingly, as a stage director. A busy professional singer and frequent lecturer on the business of singing, she brings current experience to her students. Most recently, she has appeared as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance with Portland Opera, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with the Jacksonville Symphony, Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus with Syracuse Opera, Mrs. Clancy in The Italian Lesson at Pine Mountain Music Festival, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti with Piccola Opera San Antonio, and Gertrude in Romeo & Juliette with Austin Opera. She also stage directed Gianni Schicchi for Opera Idaho and Little Red Riding Hood for Syracuse Opera's Resident Artists. Ms. Sadler has appeared on the stages of Chicago Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Pacific, Arizona Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Princeton Festival, San Antonio Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera Idaho, New Orleans Opera, and the Hollywood Bowl, among many others. Upcoming engagements include two different productions of La fille du regiment and a gala concert benefitting Spotlight Concerts. She has published over 100 articles in Classical Singer Magazine and is widely recognized for her Ask Erda advice column. She travels the country to consult with singers and lecture on singing careers in her Business of Singing, most recently to the Des Moines Metro Opera Young Artists Program, Sieur Du Luth Summer Opera Training Program, UCLA, the CoOPERAtive program at Westminster College of the Arts, Portland State University, and the Classical Singer Convention. After six years on the music faculty of St. Edward's University, she left to pursue her singing career fulltime. She has served as Executive Director of the Astoria Music Academy in Oregon, and this is her seventh year as Director of Spotlight on Opera. For more information, please visit www.cindysadler.com, www.thebusinessofsinging.com, and www.mezzowithcharacter.com.

Bruce Cain

Bruce Cain, Assistant Director, Summer Season. Baritone Bruce Cain is an Associate Professor of Music at the Sarofim School of Fine Arts at Southwestern University, where he is the principle voice teacher and director of the Opera Theatre. His career began as an apprentice with the Chautauqua Opera and then on to Chicago, where the Sun-Times hailed his debut with the Chicago Symphony as "an eloquent soloist" and the Chicago Tribune joined in praising his "sensitivity" as an artist. Dr. Cain’s most recent operatic appearance was at the Natchez Opera Festival playing Papageno in Mozart’s Magic Flute, andin Chicago portraying Ford in L’Opera Piccola’s Falstaff. His other roles include Dr. Lomax in Austin Lyric Opera’s premier of Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree, Belcore in The Elixir of Love, Dr. Blind and Falke in Die Fledermaus, Marcello and Schaunard in La Bohème, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutté, and a gambler in Prokofiev’s The Gambler, with the Chicago Lyric Opera. He has often appeared with the Austin Symphony, the Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble, and the Georgetown Festival of the Arts, as well as in concert venues across the U.S. and at the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Recent performances include: Mozart’s Requiem with the St. Edward’s University Madrigal Singers, the role of Schoenberg, in Southwestern’s premier of Jason Hoogerhyde’s The Color of Dissonance, and the role of Kraus in Mendelssohn’s Son and Stranger, with the Georgetown Festival of the Arts.

Kristin Roach

Kristin Roach, Music Director/Conductor. A native of San Antonio, Kristin Roach is Music Director of Opera Piccola of San Antonio, Music Director of Spotlight on Opera, and Conductor of the Opera Program at Texas State University. She has prepared productions for the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Tulsa Opera, Utah Opera, San Antonio Opera, and many others. Conducting credits include La Boheme, Cosi fan tutte, Don Pasquale, Liszt's Christus, Golden Space City of God, The Medium, Bastien und Bastienne/La Curandera, The Italian Lesson/Trouble in Tahiti, Speed Dating Tonight!, and the world premier of Mollicone's Children of the Sun. Upcoming engagements include and Dido and Aeneas with Opera Piccola and Gianni Schicchi/Buoso's Ghost at Texas State. Kristin also appears frequently in South Texas as a chamber musician and accompanist. Her recording of chamber works by Miguel del Aguila with Camerata San Antonio, Salon Buenos Aires, was nominated for two Latin Grammy® awards. She received her education at the Eastman School of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music in Applied Music (Piano), the Performer's Certificate in Piano, and a Master of Music in Piano Performance/Literature and Piano Accompanying/Chamber Music.

Chuck Dillars

Chuck Dillard, Principal Music Director. On sabbatical. Dr. Chuck Dillard has served as Spotlight on Opera's music director since 2008 and is currently on sabbatical. In the 2014 summer season, Dr. Dillard conducted Le nozze di Figaro and Robert Ward's The Crucible as well as numerous opera scenes programs and art song recitals. In previous seasons, he has conducted Cosi fan tutte, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Falstaff, Carmen, Cavalleria rusticana, Suor Angelica, Trouble in Tahiti, The Medium and Johnny Schicchi (a 'new' translation of the story set in Austin, TX). He is also on faculty of the Butler Opera Center Young Artist Program - a summer program for young singers hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. In 2008 Dr. Dillard was appointed as faculty in the new Collaborative Piano Area in the Chamber and Collaborative Music Division of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. From 2002-2005 he was on faculty at Furman University in Greenville, SC as instructor of music theory and collaborative staff pianist. As collaborative partner,he has recently performed with trombonists Joseph Alessi (NY Philharmonic), Stephen Lange (Boston Symphony), Gerry Pagano (St. Louis Symphony), Paul Pollard (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Jorgen Van Rijen (Royal Concertgebouw), and Douglas Yeo (Boston Symphony); horn player Adam Unsworth (University of Michigan); and vocalists Barbara Conrad (Metropolitan Opera) and Deborah Domanski (Austin Lyric Opera). Dr. Dillard collaborated on the live recording of John Adams' Nixon in China which was released on the Naxos label in 2010 under the baton of Marin Alsop with the Colorado Symphony. Dr. Dillard received degrees in collaborative piano from the University of Colorado - Boulder (DMA) and the University of Maryland - College Park (MM). Also, he received two Bachelor of Music degrees from Furman University in piano performance and music theory. His principal teachers were Anne Epperson, Robert McCoy, Rita Sloan, Ruby Morgan and Derek Parsons.

Nyle Matsuoka

Nyle Matsuoka, Music Director. On sabbatical. Austin-based pianist Nyle Matsuoka enjoys a rigorous career as a vocal coach, opera pianist, and chamber musician. A versatile and engaging performer, he has been featured around the country in the Green Recital Series, the Lakes Area Chamber Festival, and in solo performances with the Utah State University Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with artists such as conductor Stephen White, conductor Gary Wedow, conductor Kelly Kuo, soprano Cindy Dewey, and the Fry Street Quartet. A founding member of Trio Takeo, he has performed with the group throughout Idaho and Utah.
In the fall of 2013, he began a season-long residency as a coach and pianist with Arizona Opera's Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio. During his time with the company, he performed extensively with the Studio singers and played rehearsals for productions of H. M. S. Pinafore, La bohème, La traviata, and Don Pasquale.
Prior to his work with Arizona Opera, Nyle was a coaching fellow at Wolf Trap Opera in the summer of 2013. He has also worked with the University of Texas' Butler Opera Center as a coach and pianist. Additionally, he has played for the ballet program in the UT Department of Theater and Dance and has worked extensively as a collaborative pianist in the Butler School of Music.
In early 2012, Nyle made his debut with Spotlight on Opera, Austin's community-based opera troupe. After serving as Music Director for their production of Dido and Aeneas, General Director Cindy Sadler appointed him as the full-time Assistant Music Director.
Nyle's recent projects include a return to Spotlight on Opera, acting as Assistant Music Director for the 2014 summer season. He also rejoined the staff of the Butler Opera Center Young Artist Program, as well as playing for the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive.
Nyle holds a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Utah State University. His principal teachers have included Anne Epperson, Chuck Dillard, Gary Amano, and Del Parkinson.

Ev Lunning

Ev Lunning, Jr., Acting Instructor/Scenes Program Director. Ev Lunning, Jr. is an Assistant Professor at St. Edward's University, teaching Theatre and Communication. He has directed productions for St. Edward's University's Mary Moody Northen Theater, The State Theatre, the Austin Shakespeare Festival, and most recently Rumors by Neil Simon at Southwestern University and Merrily We Roll Along at MMNT. As a professional voice talent, Ev has specialized in character voices for interactive games, providing voices for Origin Systems, Human Code, and Digital Anvil as well as characters in Japanese animé dubbed into English by ADV Films. For the past five seasons, Ev has been a member of the Austin Opera Chorus, appearing in The Bat, Lucia di Lammermoor, Pagliacci, Don Carlo, and A Masked Ball. For Spotlight on Opera, he has appeared in the productions of Gianni Schicchi and The Ballad of Baby Doe. Ev volunteers as a narrator for the Talking Book Program of the Texas State Library, which serves blind and physically handicapped patrons. Four of the volumes he has narrated have been selected for circulation by the National Library Service of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Brigitte Bellini

Brigitte Bellini. Originally from Texas, award winning soprano and professor of voice at Texas State University, Brigitte Bellini, has recently returned to her home state after having lived and performed in New York City and Boston for 20 years. With over 20 years of teaching experience, she was one of the founding members of the voice faculty at The Actors Studio Drama School (as featured on BRAVO'S Inside the Actor's Studio). She has also served on the faculties of New York University, New York's famed High School for Performing Arts and The Horace Mann School, as well as maintaining a private studio of professional singers and actors. Since coming to Texas State University Ms. Bellini has been named Favorite Professor by members of the Alpha Chi Honor Society.

Performance credits include appearances with The Colorado Symphony, Glimmerglass Opera, Tanglewood Music Festival, Sarasota Opera, Di Capo Opera Theater in New York City and Central City Opera, where she is featured on the their anniversary recording of THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE. San Marcos audiences have seen her as The Mother in AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS with The San Marcos Performing Arts Association and as the soprano guest artist in A SOUSA SPECTACULAR with the Texas State Wind Ensemble. A member of NATS and TMEA, she holds both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA.

Shawn Marie Jeffery

Shawn Marie Jeffery, Manager, ADA Artists Management and Representation. A member of the ADA Artist Management team since 2005, Shawn Marie Jeffery has been a vital part of the company's rapid growth into a highly sought after agency, reputed for finding and nurturing some of the most exciting talents on the scene today. Representing a thriving roster of vocalists and conductors worldwide, ADA Artists are seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and throughout the United States as well as in Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and France. In addition to providing the best possible career management to their artists, ADA believes strongly in helping to educate and inform young artists. Shawn's work now takes her to companies throughout the United States, where she often works with the Resident Artists in master classes passing on insight into the business aspect of the opera world. She has presented at the Classical Singer Convention, Ash Lawn Opera, Opera North, Opera New Jersey, the Seagle Colony, and Yale Opera among others. Prior to joining the ADA Artist Management team Shawn worked as the Director of Education for Opera New Jersey, where she created and directed abridged versions of several operas which toured in schools throughout the northeast. As a mezzo-soprano, Shawn was a winner of the Heinz Rehfuss Singing Actor's Award, and was seen on operatic and concert stages throughout the United States.


Keeley Hooker

Keeley Hooker, Artistic Administrator. Keeley Hooker is a young soprano who has recently graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown with a double major in Music and Anthropology. She is a winner of the 2012 Southwestern University Concerto Competition, and while at Southwestern performed the role of June in Gypsy, Ms. Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief, and Ms. Vixen and the understudy of Lucy in The Beggar's Opera. She participated in the 2012 Butler Opera Center Young Artist Program at the University of Texas at Austin, and spent the summer of 2013 singing with Opera in the Ozarks, where she performed the Fairy Godmother and the Stepmother in the outreach program's version of Cinderella (Music by Massenet, Rossini and Rodgers and Hammerstein). She is a member of the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus and will also sing with Spotlight on Opera in our 2015 summer season.

Jamie Taylor

Jamie Taylor, Production Assistant. After many years away from performing, soprano Jamie Taylor has recently sung with the Austin Opera Chorus in their productions of Verdi's Don Carlo and A Masked Ball. She is currently in the chorus for her third G.S.S.A. Summer production, The Sorcerer. Jamie has worked in Austin radio for ten years, primarily with Number 9 Productions, producing live radio events for AM 1300 The Zone, as well as on-air board operations for AM 590 KLBJ. She has done commercial voice work with items airing regionally on Westwood One, Emmis Communications, and most recently on Entercom radio stations such as Mix 94.7 and Magic 95.5. Jamie has a Bachelor's of Music in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Her principal teachers have been Gilda Cruz-Romo and David Small, and she is currently studying with Nicholas Simpson.


Lori Decter Wright, Chairman
Caroline Simpson
Scott Blackshire


Jody Mullen
Nicholas Simpson