• Composer Dinuk Wijeratne
  • Librettist & Poet Shauntay Grant
  • Baritone Elliot Madore
  • Director Joel Ivany

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. 

Against the Grain (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. 

Premiering first as a filmed presentation, followed by a staged production, the song cycle charts a journey of self-discovery and challenges the parameters of Western classical traditions through the cultures of these compelling artists who live in our country. 


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 operatic and vocal works, and offering thrilling, intimate, and unforgettable experiences shared between artists and audiences. 

Creative team

  • Composer Dinuk Wijeratne
  • Librettist & Poet Shauntay Grant
  • Baritone Elliot Madore
  • Director Joel Ivany
  • Associate Director Andrew Adridge
  • Set Designer Camellia Koo
  • Costume Designer Ming Wong
  • Lighting Designer Jason Hand
  • Producing Partner Riddle Films
  • Sound Design and Engineering Ben Ewing

National Creation Fund investment

The National Creation Fund’s 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.   



Produced by Against the Grain Theatre, in association with the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund. 

Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Arts Nova Scotia, Toronto Arts Council, TD Ready Commitment and the Azrieli Foundation. 

Edmonton Opera is a presenting partner. 

Performance dates

Past performances

Film premiere:  October 23, 2022

Stage production premiere in Fall 2023