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For Immediate Release: October 11th, 2022

Songs for our Shifting Identities

Intimate new film from Against the Grain Theatre, award-winning creators of Messiah/Complex. fuses genre-bending classical music and poetry to explore coming to terms with who you are. 

TORONTO, October 11th, 2022

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) proudly presents Identity: A Song Cycle, a powerfully intimate filmed vocal work streaming across Canada and around the world on October 23, 2022, centred on the universal themes of individuality, alienation and belonging, starring acclaimed baritone Elliot Madore with original music and poetry by Dinuk Wijeratne and Shauntay Grant, directed by AtG founder and artistic director Joel Ivany.  

In early June 2020, Madore, the Toronto-born opera singer, opened up on social media about his struggles with “unabashedly expressing [his] identity” as a biracial person.

“Being mixed-race has always left me justifying who I am,” Madore wrote. “I often get asked ‘What’s your background?’, replying ‘I’m black’, typically gets met with wide eyed disbelief. I soon realized that changing that answer to biracial seemed just as implausible as black to those who didn’t know me. Eventually, I tried to dodge that question altogether, rationalizing that it was easier to avoid the conversation than having to convince someone of my own authenticity.”

Photo of Baritone Elliot Madore in Identity — by Riddle Films

The bold and honest statement from Madore captured the attention of AtG’s Ivany, who connected with the singer to find out how the two could authentically present Madore’s identity conundrum to the Canadian arts community as a performance work, utilizing the universal themes behind his moving Instagram post. 

Soon, they were working in collaboration with Ottawa-based, genre-bending composer Dinuk Wijeratne, who the NYTimes has called “Exuberantly creative,” and the acclaimed poet and Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Shauntay Grant, former Poet Laureate of Halifax. 

This October, AtG presents this cinematic work-in-progress as a song cycle based on Madore’s personal journey exploring and embracing his multiple and shifting identities. Identity: A Song Cycle transforms Madore’s intimate struggles into a contemporary performance, interspersed with poignant monologues and infused with original Canadian poetry. The piece aligns with AtG’s mission to create boundary-breaking, genre-defying vocal works and films staged in surprising locations emphasizing innovative storytelling and memorable artistic experiences

Photo of Composer/Pianist Dinuk Wijerante and Baritone Elliot Madore in Identity — by Riddle Films

AtG has been developing Identity: A Song Cycle carefully over two years, working closely with collaborators Madore, Wijeratne and Grant to bring this special story to life, and the project continues to evolve

Recently, AtG received the inspiring news that The National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund would invest $100,000 into Identity’s development, supporting the creation of a stage performance based on the film for baritone voice and jazz trio, and an excerpted orchestral performance: both versions are projected to premiere in the 2023/2024 season.

This investment by the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund marks the largest individual investment or gift AtG has received in the experimental opera company’s twelve-year history. It is a milestone for the Identity project and for AtG.  

Thank you for continuing to support our outside-the-box opera company! To register for your free ticket to experience Identity: A Song Cycle, please visit:

Where, When, and How to Watch

AtG’s Identity: a Song Cycle is available to stream on-demand from October 23rd, 2022 to April 23rd, 2023.

Ticket registration for this performance is available free of charge, or pay-what-you-can.

Registration is now available at

For more information on Identity, visit

Coming Up for AtG Theatre

AtG’s Opera Pub is back and happening across Canada!

AtG’s Opera Pubs are improvised, wild nights that offer up your favourite operatic arias and ensembles, performed by both established and emerging opera talent. Opera Pubs are the perfect introduction for newbies and a welcome break for opera vets who want to see something “a little different.” What’s more fun than opera and a beer with friends?

This fall, AtG’s beloved Opera Pub series is taking place in bars, clubs and cafes across the country, with new hosts, new pianists, and new locations— Edmonton and Vancouver.

You may remember, Opera Pub was born out west at the Legion Bar in Banff, AB, and became so popular that AtG decided to export it to Toronto a few years back. It quickly became a smash hit in “The Six” so we decided it’s time to bring it back out west!

Learn More

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) is a multi-award-winning Canadian experimental opera company dedicated to creating boundary-breaking, genre-defying vocal works and films staged in surprising locations emphasizing innovative storytelling and memorable artistic experiences. AtG is the creator of the internationally acclaimed film Messiah/Complex and the ongoing Opera Pub series.

Established in 2010 and still evolving, AtG is committed to revitalizing the operatic art form by introducing diverse audiences to outside-the-box opera experiences, creating daring re-interpretations of classical repertoire, and offering thrilling, intimate, and unforgettable experiences shared between artists and audiences.

For more information, please visit AtG online at, on Twitter and Instagram @AtGTheatre, and on Facebook at

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Joshua Knelman
Against the Grain Theatre


Robin Whiffen
Executive Director
Against the Grain Theatre