Identity: a Song Cycle (film)

Exploring one’s journey to embrace multiple and shifting identities.

Composer: Dinuk Wijeratne

Poet: Shauntay Grant

Cast: Elliot Madore, Baritone

Director: Joel Ivany

Language: English [English subtitles]

Running Time: 45 Minutes

An artistic exploration of Self

In early June 2020, Torontonian and baritone Elliot Madore opened up on social media about his struggles with “unabashedly expressing [his] identity” as a biracial person.

AtG Artistic Director Joel Ivany and Elliot Madore came together to find a way to present to the Canadian arts community the universal themes behind Madore’s moving Instagram post. In collaboration with genre-bending composer Dinuk Wijeratne and acclaimed poet Shauntay Grant, AtG and Madore will present a song cycle that sets new and original Canadian poetry to music that fuses classical music with an array of influences.

The film will present the song cycle in its current state of development: showcasing five newly composed songs woven together with stories from Elliot’s life.

AtG TV

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Premieres: Sunday, October 23rd at 8 PM ET

Streaming: October 23rd, 2022 – April 23rd, 2023

Tickets: Free or Pay-What-You-Can

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“Through my personal story and my strife with identity, I’ve come to realize that this is a common theme throughout society that hasn’t been fully explored: our collective and individual struggle with who we are, our identity.”

— Elliot Madore, Baritone

Cast & Creative Team

Dinuk Wijeratne

Composer/Pianist

Sri Lankan-born Canadian Dinuk Wijeratne is a JUNO and multi-award-winning composer, pianist, and conductor who has been described by the Toronto Star as ‘an artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future’, and by the New York Times as ‘exuberantly creative’. His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Dinuk was featured as a main character in 'What would Beethoven do?' - the documentary about innovation in classical music featuring Eric Whitacre, Bobby McFerrin and Ben Zander. Dinuk's music has been performed by virtually every Canadian orchestra, and he has also performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Opera Bastille (Paris), Lincoln Center (New York), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), in Sri Lanka, Japan, and across the Middle East. Forthcoming collaborations include works and premieres for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital, and Boston's 'A Far Cry' orchestra. Dinuk's music and collaborative work embrace the great diversity of his international background and influences.
Shauntay Grant

Poet

Shauntay Grant is a poet, playwright, author, and multimedia artist from Kjipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). An associate professor of creative writing at Dalhousie University and former poet laureate for the City of Halifax, she “creates artworks that are engaging and accessible, but also challenging, rigorous, and informed by deep research (The Royal Society of Canada).” Her poetry has been anthologized and published in literary journals like Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, and featured internationally at events like the Vancouver's Writers Fest, the Edmonton Poetry Festival, the Jamaica Poetry Festival, Australia's National Young Writer's Festival, and the South-North Griots Summit. Her stage play The Bridge—published in 2021 by Playwrights Canada Press—premiered at Neptune Theatre and won a 2020 Robert Merritt Award for Outstanding New Play, and her monodrama Beyere was commissioned by Obsidian Theatre for its 21 Black Futures project which aired on CBC Gem in 2021. An award-winning author of children's literature, Shauntay's picture book Africville with illustrator Eva Campbell won the 2019 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards. Her other honours include a Best Atlantic-Published Book prize from the Atlantic Book Awards, a Poet of Honour prize from Spoken Word Canada, and a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Elliot Madore

Baritone

Grammy® Award-winning Canadian baritone, Elliot Madore has established himself as one of the most sought after, accomplished singers of his generation, enthralling audiences around the world with his “robust singing and take-no-prisoners acting” (The New York Times), “exquisite vocal beauty” (Opera News) and “movie star good looks” (Merkur). At just 33, Madore’s career spans the past decade, singing in major opera companies and orchestras throughout Europe, The United States and Canada.
The 2021-2022 season sees Mr. Madore’s house debut in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s new opera Julius Caesar with Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, directed by Robert Carsen and conducted by Daniele Gatti. Mr. Madore will also make his role debut as Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy in Japan. Orchestral work includes Handel’s Messiah with the US Naval Academy Orchestra and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Santa Cruz Symphony, conducted by music director Daniel Stewart. Mr. Madore will also join the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music faculty this season, in a newly created position as a performing Associate Professor of Voice.
Joel Ivany

Director

Joel Ivany is the Founder and Artistic Director of AtG, is the artistic director of Opera at Banff Centre and was recently appointed Artistic Director at Edmonton Opera. His directing credits include productions of Verdi’s Macbeth (Minnesota Opera), Carmen (Vancouver Opera), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever (Adelaide Festival) and Le nozze di Figaro (revival at Norwegian National Opera). He is the author of seven (and counting) original librettos for companies such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company. He is a multiple Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee for Outstanding Direction as well as for Outstanding New Opera/Musical, winning one for Figaro’s Wedding. Recent mainstage directing credits include Dead Man Walking at Minnesota Opera and the multiple award-winning production of Gluck’s Orphée⁺ with Opera Columbus, AtG and Banff Centre. He has directed productions for the Canadian Opera Company (Hänsel und Gretel, Carmen), Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Mozart’s Requiem, Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins), the Canadian Children’s Opera Company (Brundibár), Vancouver Opera (Carmen, Dead Man Walking), and Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus (AtG and Banff Centre). Recent highlights include Messiah/Complex (AtG) and directing the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. He is a proud graduate of the Opera School at U of T and is a member of the Alumni Wall of Fame at his alma mater, Western University.
Riddle Films

Producer

Riddle Films

Led by producers Liam Romalis and Jason Charters, Riddle Films is an award-winning company dedicated to capturing the worlds of the performing arts and culture and making them accessible to as broad an audience as possible. Their work has streamed, screened and aired on television, online and at film festivals around the world, including the CBC, BBC, PBS, ARTE, NHK, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. With a strong belief in supporting arts organizations and artists, Riddle Films has partnered with the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Summer Music, the Azrieli Music Prize and Against the Grain Theatre in addition to artists such as the Gryphon Trio, the Afiara String Quartet, Dione Taylor, Serena Ryder, Kevin Breit, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Danny Grossman to name but a few. Productions include the Emmy-nominated music documentary, Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas, the documentary and performance film The Group of Seven Guitars Project produced for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Joel Krosnick: What to Play Next, an intimate portrait of the famed cellist as he retired after 42 years with the Juilliard String Quartet.

Andrew Adridge

Associate Director

Andrew Adridge (he/him) is a multidisciplinary artist and opera producer based in Toronto with a passion for equity and industry reform. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto holding both a Bachelor of Music Performance in Voice and a Master of Music in Opera. He has been featured as an ensemble soloist both at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto and the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. Andrew has participated in several young artist programs including The Chautauqua Institution Voice Program, and the Banff Opera program. Andrew is an avid writer having contributed to both Opera Canada and Ludwig Van Toronto and continues his pursuits through his personal blog and through spoken word bringing to light issues around artistry, identity, and race.
Andrew has worked as an arts administrator with such organizations as the Association for Opera in Canada and Tapestry Opera and has recently made his directorial debut with the Canadian Opera Company and Against the Grain Theatre as the Associate Director on Mozart’s Requiem. Most recently he directed the Edmonton Opera Valentine’s Day Gala which premiered on Global TV in February of 2022. Andrew currently works as the Artistic Producer for the Banff Centre Opera in the 21st Century program and is the Co-Founder of the national arts education collective Opera InReach. Andrew’s recognizable commitment to EDIJA advancement in the arts sector has made him sought after as a panellist, consultant, and outlet contributor.
This season, Andrew will assistant direct Identity: A Song Cycle with Against the Grain Theatre and Carmen with the Canadian Opera Company. Andrew is very excited to continue his journey as an opera producer through this opportunity provided by the Metcalf Foundation allowing him to work in Artistic Operations with Against the Grain Theatre.
Ming Wong

Wardrobe

Ming is a Toronto costume designer, stylist, and wardrobe technician. She has worked on a variety of projects ranging from dance & theatre to film & television. She has designed across the city and beyond for companies such as the Canadian Opera Company, Citadel Theatre, Canadian Stage, Crow’s Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Factory Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, and Modern Times Stage Company.

She is a 5 time Dora Mavor Moore nominee as well as a 4 time nominee for the Virginia & Myrtle Cooper Travel Award in Costume Design.

Production & Design

Producer

Producer

Percussion

Bass

Sound Designer

Editor

Director of Photography

Jason Charters

Liam Romalis

Nick Halley

Tyler Emond

Ben Ewing

Mako Funasaka

Kiarash Sadigh

Producer — Jason Charters

Producer — Liam Romalis

Percussion — Nick Halley

Bass — Tyler Emond

Sound Designer — Ben Ewing

Editor — Mako Funasaka

Director of Photography — Kiarash Sadigh

“Maybe the individual who listens to this piece is searching for something – just as we all are.”

— Dinuk Wijeratne, Composer

Media

Identity excerpt ” No. 3 Synthetic Leaves”

Identity in Conversation with Elliot, Dinuk, and Joel

Exploring Identity: Elliot Madore

Exploring Identity: Joel Ivany

“Father’s face on faded picture – unfamiliar ancestry.
Eyes I know and don’t remember.
Is this who I’m s’posed to be?”

— (Excerpt from Identity: a Song Cycle, written by Shauntay Grant)

Identity: a Song Cycle Lyrics

Identity Introduction

Support the Show

We’re delighted to present Identity, free-of-charge

As a small arts organization, we strive to showcase experimental works and diverse voices—and this means taking risks: creatively and financially. If you are able, please consider a donation to AtG, so that we can bring more outside-the-box operatic experiences to you and continue to provide employment opportunities to artists and artisans nationwide.

Donate

Discovering Identity

It all started with a social post.

We live in a world where everyone has a platform to share their ideas, art, philosophies, and experiences. Social media can be a beautiful tool and platform for artists to share their work and lives and connect with a broader audience.

Identity: a Song Cycle was born out of an incredibly vulnerable Instagram post by Baritone Elliot Madore. In response to the respark of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Elliot posted a photo of himself and a message expressing his struggle with his identity. Upon seeing this post, AtG artistic director Joel Ivany reached out to Elliot to explore creating something that tackles this intimate and challenging subject. If it weren’t for this brave post, Identity would never have come to be.

Check out Elliot’s instagram post here.

Identity’s Visual Story

The incredible visual artist, educator, and graphic designer Anna Binta Diallo designed the concept, elements, and wordmark.

She is a “Canadian multi-disciplinary visual artist who investigates memory and nostalgia to create unexpected narratives surrounding identity.” We encourage you to give her a follow and learn more about her STUNNING work.

“Synthetic Leaves”

Anna’s design was inspired by poetry in the song cycle and the photo from Elliot’s s social post that catalyzed this project. She cites leaves, roots, skin, and colour, with both synthetic and natural dualities, as her inspiration for this design.

Finding the right “words.”

The font for the word mark, “Gulax,” she sourced from the Velvetyne foundry: a foundry that designs and distributes open-source typefaces, creating a digital space that encourages collaborative experimentation with an anti-capitalist and anti-racist flavour.

She wanted the font to feel a bit musical, like notation and relevant to the theme. 

She chose “Gulax” because the font itself feels very circular and round and musical on its own.

Learn more about Anna here.

Our Supporters

Identity’s journey has only just begun!

We are excited to share that Identity: a Song Cycles’ development is now supported by the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.

The Fund is a catalyst for Canadian artists to take their projects to a new level.  Their investments provide the additional time and resources that bold, ambitious projects need to be successful on the national and international stage.

Their investment of $100,000 supports additional workshops for the film and stage adaptation with the creators and jazz trio, as well as the commissioning of an orchestral version of the song cycle.

Learn more about the investment here.

Logo for the National Arts Centre
Thank You
The Canada Council for the Arts
Ontario Arts Council
Arts Nova Scotia
Toronto Arts Council
TD Ready Commitment
The Azrieli Foundation
Toronto Arts Council logo