Exploring one’s journey to embrace multiple and shifting identities.
Composer: Dinuk Wijeratne
Poet: Shauntay Grant
Cast: Elliot Madore, Baritone
Director: Joel Ivany
Running Time: Approximately 60 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 presents the song cycle in an earlier state of development: showcasing five newly composed songs woven together with stories from Elliot’s life. Identity will be available to stream again in May 2024.
Identity will continue to grow into a live performance.
“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
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.
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 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.
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.
Director of Photography
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.