Spotlight in Opera is Austin's own community opera troupe and training program. We are now celebrating our 6th season.
Program Director Cindy Sadler founded Spotlight on Opera in 2007 as a one week summer program at St. Edward’s University. In 2008, Spotlight expanded to three weeks, featuring two performances of different scenes programs. In Fall 2009, we became an official ensemble at St. Ed’s. Our 2009-2010 Fall-Spring Season included the French Connection Concert, The Song Café (our popular staged art song program), and an evening of opera excerpts; a Valentine’s Day scenes program entitled Sing to Love, and a double bill of Suor Angelica and Let’s Hear it For the Boys (a scenes program). In Summer 2010, Spotlight expanded again into two divisions, a Daytime and After Five Division (which operate only in the summer version of the program), adding two faculty members and two pianists, and enjoying the largest enrollment and performance schedule to date, with an Aria Extravaganza, three opera scenes showcases, two separate casts of Song Café, and two performances each of Acts I & II of The Marriage of Figaro and Cavalleria Rusticana. Fall/Spring 2010-11 included an Opera Gala, Song Cafe, Sing to Love Valentine's Day Concert, and an evening of American opera, including performances of Trouble in Tahiti, The Telephone, The Medium, and A Hand of Bridge. Spotlight expanded again for the 2011 Summer Season, with two sessions and three divisions spanning four weeks. For the first time we opened the Choral Division to high school students aged 15 and up, who were allowed to participate absolutely free. Performances included two staged and costumed original language performances of Falstaff and Carmen, as well as the Aria Extravaganza concert, Song Cafe, and two unique Opera Scenes Showcases. Classes included stagecraft, French diction, Business of Singing classes, Auditions Panel, Bad Pianist Class, Makeup and Wigs, and a fitness Boot Camp.
Our 2011-2012 Fall/Spring Season saw the introduction of our wildly successful "Aria by Design" concert, in which audience members got to choose from a menu of musical selections to program their own concert. For the first time, Spotlight produced concerts for faculty artists, including My Romance Classical Cabaret starring Cindy Sadler and Nicholas Simpson; as well as baritone Bruce Cain and guitarist David Asbury in concert. We also presented our annual Sing to Love Valentines Concert, and Acts of Love and Desperation. Summer 2012 included performances of Cosi fan tutte, Little Women, and Suor Angelica; a Season Preview concert at Chez Zee American Bistro, the Opera Ambassadors Concert at Longhorn Village, the Aria Extravaganza at the Whole Foods flagship store on Lamar Blvd., and two performances each of the Song Cafe and the Opera Scenes Showcase; as well as a master class by internationally known soprano Cynthia Clayton, classes in the Business of Singing, Italian, French, and English diction, acting, yoga, art song, auditions makeovers, mock auditions, and more.
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. For information about participating in upcoming seasons, please visit the Program Info page. Interested audience members may visit Upcoming Performances for information and to join our mailing list. You may also use the Contact Page to contact Program Director Cindy Sadler directly.
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 Baba the Turk in the Rake's Progress with the Princeton Festival, the Marquise de Berkenfeld in La Fille du Régiment with Opera Idaho and the Sugar Creek Festival, with Chicago Lyric Opera, covering Stephanie Blythe as Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera and Katisha in The Mikado; as Katisha at Syracuse Opera, as the Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica at San Antonio Opera, and as Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro and Mrs. McLean in Susannah at Des Moines Metro Opera. She has also recently been heard as Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette at Florida Grand Opera and San Antonio Opera, Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro at Kentucky Opera, and The Old Baroness in Vanessa with Sarasota Opera. Upcoming engagements include appearances with Tulsa Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Intermountain Opera, and Portland Opera. Ms. Sadler has appeared on the stages of Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Pacific, Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Austin Lyric Opera, New Orleans Opera, and the Hollywood Bowl, among many others. 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.thenext100pounds.com.
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.
Jennifer Anderson, Assistant Program Director, Fall/Spring Season. Jennifer Anderson has worked as a Stage Manager in many venues around Austin, including Footloose with Zilker Theatre Productions, Here’s To You and House of Several Stories with Imagine That Productions, When Something Wonderful Ends with Red Then Productions, The Clean House and Plays Well With Others at Zachary Scott Theatre Center. At Austin Lyric Opera, she worked as an Assistant Stage Manager on shows including Flight, The Italian Girl in Algiers, La traviata, Hansel and Gretel, The Star, La bohème, Dialogues des Carmélites, and Rigoletto. She served as Assistant Stage Manager for The Drowsy Chaperone at ZACH, and also as a production assistant and stage crew member for over two dozen shows from 2005 to 2007 including these favorites: Porgy and Bess; Jesus Christ, Superstar; Present Laughter; The Rocky Horror Show; Crowns; Urinetown, The Musical; Rockin’ Christmas Party; Keepin’ It Weird. Jennifer has a Bachelors degree in education, specializing in music, has studied vocal performance and opera extensively, and is a soprano in the St. Austin Catholic Parish Choir.
Chuck Dillard, Music Director. Originally from South Carolina, Chuck Dillard has been praised as an educator, chamber musician, vocal coach, and soloist. He has been heard from coast to coast with orchestras, choirs, chamber musicians, and in instrumental and vocal recitals. As an opera pianist, he has worked with several major companies including Central City Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Carolina, and summer programs in Santa Barbara and Aspen among others. As an educator, he regularly participates in outreach performances for school children as well as having served as instructor at Furman University and the University of Colorado. In the fall, Mr. Dillard will be joining the newly formed collaborative piano department at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds degrees from the University of Maryland, Furman University and is currently completing his doctorate at the University of Colorado.
Nyle Matsuoka, Assistant Music Director. A versatile and engaging performer, Nyle Matsuoka is a sought-after pianist, vocal coach and chamber musician. He has been heard around the country in the Green Recital Series (Ottawa, KS), Lakes Area Chamber Festival (Brainerd, MS), and in multiple solo performances with the Utah State Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Nyle gave a benefit concert with soprano Leslie Heal-Ray in Chapel Hill, NC to help fund heart surgeons traveling to Uganda.
As a frequent recitalist, Nyle has worked with baritone David Small (voice faculty at the University of Texas), soprano Cindy Dewey (voice faculty at Utah State University), violinist Yi Ching Fedkenheuer (former string faculty at Utah State University), soprano Leslie Heal-Ray (former adjunct voice faculty at Utah State University), and the Fry Street Quartet (string faculty at Utah State University). A founding member of Trio Takeo, he performed with the group throughout Idaho and Utah in the spring of 2008.
Nyle's awards include several from the state and division levels of the MTNA competition, the IFMC scholarship competition, and the Joyce A. Chaeffer Trust Fund. In 2010 and 2011, Nyle won a collaborative piano fellowship to attend the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. Mentored by Jonathan Feldman (Juilliard), he worked in the studios of internationally renowned artists such as Donald McInnes (University of Southern California), Kathleen Winkler (Rice University), and Jeanne Baxtresser (Carnegie Mellon University).
Currently residing in Austin, TX, Nyle works closely with the Butler Opera Center as a coach and pianist, in vocal studios as a freelance pianist, and in the department of theater and dance at the University of Texas. This summer, Nyle will be serving as pianist for the Franco-American Vocal Academy, Spotlight on Opera, and the Butler Opera Center Young Artist Program.
In 2011, Nyle graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano. He was awarded a full teaching assistantship for the duration of his studies. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Utah State University, where he graduated magna cum laude with university and departmental honors. His principal teachers have been Anne Epperson, Chuck Dillard, Gary Amano, Del Parkinson, and Linda Aufderheide.