Simone is an Essex-based mezzo-soprano and theatre-maker passionate about celebrating and sharing work that brings joy, and respects, reflects and affects the world we live in.
As a theatre-maker, the last couple of years saw the release of her short film for the English National Opera, What Do You Hope For?, snapshots of the lives of nine Black operatic artists; the premiere of her “wild, witty… and painfully perceptive” (The Stage) and “fierce, fearless and cerebral” (The Guardian) debut play with Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong, Shuck ‘n’ Jive, at the Soho Theatre; writing the libretto for the Royal Opera House and Visualise’s immersive trap-opera experience mobilising us against the climate crisis, Munkination; and short tours of her all-singing, all-dancing Il barbiere di Siviglia for Devon Opera and Hansel and Gretel for East Anglia Opera. Engagements cancelled or altered due to the pandemic include her, Ana Beard Fernández and April Koyejo-Audiger’s cabaret-opera Gracie with Immersive|LDN and OperaVision, and woman.life.song at the Edinburgh International Festival. Next, she looks forward to directing a new play for a leading conservatoire (to be announced); directing the Black British Classical Foundation’s first production; and a second commission from West Green House Opera, following her sold-out concert-play this summer; as well as associate work with Opera North and Glyndebourne.
As a performer, she next looks forward to premiering a piece written for her by trailblazer Odaline de la Martinez at the London Festival of American Music and with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in Canada. Other forthcoming engagements include her first Amneris in Aida (Opera Festival Scotland) and Wellgunde in Der Ring des Nibelungen (Gafa Arts); roles with Barefoot Opera and West Green House Opera; and a recital at the Serpentine Gallery.
Recent highlights include Mami Wata (Royal Opera House, Pegasus Opera); Grace in Bryony Kimmings’ Opera Mums (BBC Four); Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days (West Green House Opera); Jo in Lustrum Award-winner Dead Equal, directed by Miranda Cromwell (Summerhall); A Woman in Olivier and Sky Arts Award-winning Porgy and Bess (English National Opera, Dutch National Opera), and cover Annie for Theater an der Wien‘s production; workshopping Esther in Mamzer by Na’ama Zisser (Royal Opera House); Khye-Rell in fashion-opera RUNE (UU Studios); and Bubbles in Bubbles the Zebra-fish and the No. 8 Bus, bringing climate awareness to the young and young at heart (Aukoko).
She is an Extra Chorister at the English National Opera; a Pegasus Opera mentee; and a performer with the Earth Ensemble, stirring hearts and minds to action around the climate crisis. Before training in classical voice, she sang backing vocals for artists including Mercury Award-winner Benjamin Clementine and BBC Folk Award-winner Sam Lee.
Simone is joint artistic director of Hera with Toria Banks and Linda Hirst, celebrating and sharing unheard music and stories by women and gender-minoritised folk right across the UK. With them she has worked on feminist gig theatre; anti-ableist electronic opera; training about theatrical intimacy and the amazing, hidden women of classical music; and more. In the past she worked in the bustling offices of Cheek by Jowl, Paines Plough and Arts Council England.
She trained at the University of York and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she recently undertook a fellowship in artist-activism. Her studies were kindly supported by The Guildhall School Trust, Help Musicians UK, and the Opera Awards Foundation.
She has appeared on the radio, podcasts and TV discussing opera, theatre, diversity and inclusion, and the climate crisis; and is honoured to have been named a BBC Radio 3 Next Generation Voice 2019, and won the arts and culture category at the Women of the Future Awards 2020.
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Simone uses she/her pronouns.