Skip to main content

Winner of the “Noteworthy Project Award” at the Opera America Awards for Digital Excellence


A rousing and decidedly Canadian version of Handel’s Messiah

Composer: G. F. Handel

Directors: Reneltta Arluk & Joel Ivany

Conductor: Johannes Debus

In partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Running Time: 78 Minutes

Languages: Arabic, Dene, English, French, Inuktitut, and Southern Tutchone

The multi-award-winning innovative team at Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) is proud to present an encore presentation of the bold interpretation of Handel’s Messiah, created in partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO).

The daring, seventy-eight-minute filmed performance of Messiah/Complex showcases multilingual translations and features a diverse cast of soloists and choirs from every Province and Territory across Canada, accompanied by the exceptional sounds of the TSO and conducted by Johannes Debus (Canadian Opera Company).


Watch the Trailer

Streaming: December 10th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024

Tickets: Free or Pay-What-You-Can

Register to Watch

Hailed by the New York Times as “a rousing and decidedly Canadian version of Handel’s Messiah,” Against the Grain Theatre’s Messiah/Complex returns this season for audiences across the world to enjoy once again.

Available to stream on-demand from December 10th, 2023 – January 7th, 2024.


A truly cross-Canada performance — in Arabic, Dene, English, French, Inuktitut, and Southern Tutchone, and accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

AtG Founder Joel Ivany partnered with Banff Centre’s Director of Indigenous Arts, Reneltta Arluk, to Co-Direct a new interpretation of the Messiah

…with the goal of amplifying this unique moment of pride and inclusivity in Canada—honouring and giving support to Indigenous and underrepresented voices from coast-to-coast-to-frozen-coast, and hoping to share these voices with an international audience.

Joel Ivany (AB)

Co-Director of Messiah/Complex and Founder of Against the Grain Theatre

Reneltta Arluk (NT)

Co-Director of Messiah/Complex and Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre

Filmed against iconic Canadian landscapes, Messiah/Complex features twelve soloists and four choirs representing every province and territory across the country.

This “complex” interpretation of Messiah includes 6 languages, 12 soloists, 4 choirs, and is lifted by the mighty sounds of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Every aspect of this production has been made possible by the goodwill and diligence of the cast and crew involved following the most up-to-date provincial COVID-19 safety protocols.

Click on the photo of a soloist below to learn more about their Messiah/Complex story.

Leela Gilday (NT)

No. 45 – Senewetsıne, godı́ ǫt’e bek’eoreshǫ (I know that My Redeemer Liveth – Sung in Dene)

Looee Arreak (NU)

No. 20 – He shall feed his flock (Sung in Inuktitut and English)

Deantha Edmunds (NL)

No. 38 – Kuvianattuksovut itigangit (How Beautiful Are the Feet – Sung in Inuttitut)

Spencer Britten (BC)

No. 2 – Comfort ye my people
No. 3 – Ev’ry valley shall be exalted

Diyet (YT)

No. 9 – Utʼawkwadįchʼe yesį chʼe yan nań käy (O thou that tellest – Sung in Southern Tutchone)

Andrea Lett (SK)

No. 18 – Rejoice Greatly, O daughter of Zion

Messiah/Complex soloists include: Cree-Métis baritone Jonathon Adams; Inuktitut singer-songwriter Looee Arreak; British Columbia tenor Spencer Britten; Canadian-Tunisian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb in Montreal; Edmonton-born mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel; Inuk singer Deantha Edmunds in Newfoundland & Labrador; Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday in Northwest Territories; Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil; Saskatchewan soprano Andrea LettDiyet van Lieshout, who sings in Southern Tutchone, from Yukon Territory; Métis singer Julie Lumsden; and Toronto-born baritone Elliot Madore.

Miriam Khalil (ON)

No. 52 – إِنْ كَانَ اللهُ مَعَنَا فَمَنْ عَلَيْنَا (If God be for us – Sung in Arabic)

Catherine Daniel (AB)

No. 40 – Why do the nations so furiously rage together?

Elliot Madore (ON)

No. 47 – Behold, I tell you a mystery
No. 48 – The trumpet shall sound

Julie Lumsden (MB)

No. 20 – He shall feed his flock

Jonathon Adams (AB)

No. 5 – Thus saith the Lord
No. 6 – But who May Abide the day of His coming

Rihab Chaieb (QC)

No. 23 – Elle fut méprisée  (She was Despised – Sung in French)

These diverse and singular voices represent an array of cultural traditions and heritages…

…as well as every region of our vast and interconnected country—hence the addition of “Complex” to the title of this production of the Messiah. We’re celebrating the artists’ uniqueness and comfort.

AtG—along with our partners and artists—is proud to once again offer Messiah/Complex free of charge to every soul in need of a musical lift.

Creating this national project has been a huge undertaking for us as a small arts organization, and has required a tremendous amount of resources. 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.

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (ON)
No. 44 – Hallelujah

Halifax Camerata Singers (NS)
No. 53 – Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain

Le Choeur Louisbourg (NB)
No. 12 – For Unto Us A Child is Born

UPEI Chamber Singers (PEI)
No. 7 – And He Shall Purify

Garnering over 130K views in its initial limited run…

…Messiah/Complex has been watched by audiences from more than forty countries worldwide. Against the Grain Theatre received thousands of messages from international fans, sending their gratitude for such a diverse and inspired piece of work and sharing their personal connections to Handel’s Messiah.

AtG would like to extend a special thank you to the artists, arts administrators, technicians and crew who took a chance on us, and who have inspired our team throughout this creative journey.

On behalf of AtG, our Board of Directors, and our partner Toronto Symphony Orchestra, we hope you enjoyed this unique and inspired performance of Messiah/Complex.

Supported By


Alexandra Baillie
Andrea Bellefeuille
Carolyn & Steve Campbell
Simion Candrea
Marc Chalifoux
Debbie Delancey
Lynn Eakin
Sandra Gavinchuk & William Bowen
Andrew Gillespie
Valarie Koziol
Joy Levine
Shirley Neuman
Christian Perry
Frances Price
Cornelia Schuh & Michiel Horn
Robert Sherrin & Astrid Janson
Kris Vikmanis & Denton Creighton
Peter Wismath


Aldershot Landscape Contractors
Bank of Montreal
Validus Reinsurance, Ltd.

Diyet’s appearance is generously supported by Whitehorse Concerts


The Azrieli Foundation
Yukon Arts Centre

Aldershot Landscape Contractors
BMO Logo
The Azrieli Foundation logo