Stage Door News

Toronto: Loose Tea Music Theatre and Highlands Opera Studio announce BIPOC composer-librettist program

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Toronto-based opera company Loose Tea Music Theatre (LTMT) and Haliburton-based Highlands Opera Studio (HOS) have today announced a new partnership to develop LTMT’s landmark BIPOC Composer-Librettist Development Program. This August Highlands Opera Studio will host artists from both companies to present two productions for in-person performances.

The Loose Tea Music Theatre BIPOC Composer-Librettist Development Program, now in its second year, is a program that supports the development of diverse creators new to opera and music theatre. Highlands Opera Studio provides advanced operatic training and professional development to a select group of approximately 20 Canadian emerging operatic professionals chosen through an annual cross-Canada competitive audition process. The partnership of these two companies with a shared vision for the future of opera, was a natural fit.

LTMT’s Inertia and The Museum of the Lost and Found will both have significant workshops this summer culminating in a presentation during the Highlands Opera Studio July/August performance season. The HOS season includes 16 public performances/events in Haliburton County including concerts, masterclasses, fully staged operas, and community outreach events. Further to that, the LTMT and Highlands Opera Studio will host two other Creators in Residence: Troy Defour and JT Rivera to develop new works with mentors Lila Palmer, Andrew Balfour, and Philip & Patricia Morehead.

Inertia by Ashley Au and Christene Browne is a story about elderly isolation and perceptions of death and a meditation on stagnation, dying, love, and friendship. It tells the story of two elderly neighbours, Evelyn and Addison, who live next door to each other for decades but have little interaction with each other or anyone. When Death comes to collect the two, he instead decides to allow them to live, if they can get past their entrenched ways to become friends.

The Museum of the Lost and Found by Olivia Shortt, focuses on a fictional museum in the woods whose exhibits are items from various Lost and Found boxes. What happens to people and items when they are no longer being looked for? It is an allegory about how Western society treats missing person cases (specifically MMIWG2S: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People).

Troy Defour is exploring a piece about the relationship between a black father and gay son, breaking down stereotypes and barriers of the ‘hardness’ and volatility that exists in cis male blackness. JT Rivera continues to develop Warrior, which is a coming-of-age story about a young Ojibway girl who confronts her spirit to understand her calling in life. The narrative is told through music and spoken word while mashing together styles like opera, rap, spoken word, synth metal.

From Loose Tea Music Theatre Executive Artistic Director Alaina Viau – “LTMT is dedicated to the exploration of cross-cultural and social relationships and collaborating deeply with our communities. With this in mind, I am thrilled to partner with the Highlands Opera Studio for the next stage of our BIPOC Composer Librettist Development Program. We share a vision that is passionate in believing that we can change the world for the better by thinking differently. This collaboration shows that, by effectively gathering our efforts, we can bring forward productions that furthers this goal. Together we are fostering a plethora of fascinating opera exploration that encompases a vast range of human experiences”

From Highland Opera Studio Co-Artistic and General Director Valerie Kuinka - “Since HOS was established, emphasis has been placed on embracing difference, acknowledging diversity of all kinds and making every effort to provide opportunities to remedy the negative impacts, structural barriers, and power dynamics that can be present in the world of opera. We endeavor to represent and support diverse cultural and social perspectives and preferences throughout the organization and in all our activities, including the commissioning and presentation of new Canadian works telling the stories of today. Welcoming LTMT to the HOS 2022 Professional Program community and performance season will continue our established commitment at HOS to tackling the very real issues around systemic racism in opera, supporting all marginalized groups of society, and focusing on increasing awareness and implementing positive change.”

Public performances will take place August 18 and 20, 2022, and tickets are available at

Highlands Opera Studio Box-Office & Administration - Toll-free: 1-855-455-5533.