Spotlight on Opera season concludes with gala production of Verdi's "Aida"

SHREVEPORT, LA — Spotlight on Opera’s distinguished faculty, guests, and students will come together to present a grand finale for the 2019 summer season with a concert version of Giuseppe Verdi’s Egyptian-themed masterpiece, Aida. The performance will be Sunday, July 28, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Anderson Auditorium at Centenary College’s Hurley School of Music, and will be followed by a reception. The concert is a special fundraiser to help Spotlight continue its tradition of excellent training for young artists and intimate opera for the community.

Following the twists and turns of a love triangle between a brave enslaved princess, the Egyptian general who loves her, and the powerful Pharoah's daughter who wants the general for herself, Aida is filled with magical, evocative music and drama. It was commissioned by the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo and premiered there in December 1871.

The Spotlight on Opera production at Centenary stars guest artist Elizabeth Herlitz-Cortés as Aida, Spotlight founder and Executive Director Cindy Sadler as Amneris, faculty member Nicholas Simpson as Radames, guest artist Cory Schantz as Amonasro, and guest artist Edward J. Crafts as Ramfis. Crafts, a distinguished international artist and veteran of the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsopera, and many others, is making his role debut as Ramfis.

Spotlight student Kyle Chastulik as The King, student Rachel Moon as The High Priestess, and student Tony Anthony as The Messenger round out the principal cast. Chastulik, Moon, and Anthony will also sing in the Aida chorus alongside, among other Spotlight participants, current Centenary students Zipphora Hyman, Carlos Romero, and Sierra Worman, and 2019 Centenary graduate Victoria Sundin. The Centenary students are all attending Spotlight on scholarship this summer.

Aida is an opera that has everything; from big ensembles and finales, to intimate duets and solo arias; there are thunderous big passages, and moments that are soft as a whisper,” says Nicholas Simpson. “This production is a wonderful culmination of the 13th season, which will feature the faculty performing alongside the students. On a personal note, Aida was one of the first operas I ever heard on CD, and I remember listening to the opera dreaming of the day I’d sing Radames for the first time. As an alumnus of Spotlight, I’m proud and honored to be singing the role for the first time with this terrific program.”

Sadler, former artist-in-residence at Centenary’s Hurley School of Music, founded Spotlight on Opera in 2007 as a one-week summer program. It has since grown into an independent non-profit organization, attracting students from all over the United States and several foreign countries. More information on the program is available at SpotlightOnOpera.com.

“Spotlight on Opera is a wonderful program and opportunity for young singers from all over the world,” says guest artist Elizabeth Herlitz-Cortes. “This is the first time Spotlight is doing this kind of large work and bringing in soloists as principals. I believe it’s smart and I hope they continue producing these kinds of larger works in the future seasons.”

Tickets for Aida: A Gala Concert are $25 for the general public and $12 for students, seniors, and military personnel with ID. Donations to support Spotlight on Opera will also be accepted. The performance is free for Centenary faculty, staff, and students with ID. Tickets are available at SpotlightOnOpera.com