Toronto-based indie opera company Loose Tea Music Theatre has announced a new Artistic Director, Joanna Diindiisikwe Simmons. Diindiisikwe Simmons is a Canadian opera singer (Louis Riel, Missing) and an active figure in the province’s opera, dance, and theatre scenes; she works closely with The Dance Umbrella of Ontario, the Mississauga Children’s Choir, and The Harmony Collaboration.
From Lindsay, Ontario, Diindiisikwe Simmons is of Saugeen Ojibwe heritage, and her appointment with Loose Tea makes her the first Indigenous artistic director of a Canadian opera company.
“I gravitated towards working with Alaina [Viau, Executive Artistic Director] and Loose Tea Music Theatre because of their reputation for challenging classical opera while tackling significant and relatable issues, such as violence towards women,” says Diindiisikwe Simmons. “I look forward to pushing the boundaries of opera even further
to help make it more accessible and relatable to the next generation with a strong focus on building a firm connection with the reservations closest to us, and with indigenous peoples across turtle island.”
Diindiisikwe Simmons’ first initiative with Loose Tea will be a BIPoC Composer & Librettist Development program; two teams of composers and librettists will create new chamber operas, while receiving mentorship and seeing their work put up in workshops and on the main stage. Details about submissions are forthcoming.