TORONTO — premiering this December 13 on AtG TV, the multi-award-winning innovative team at Against the Grain Theatre(AtG) is proud to present a bold interpretation of Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by and in partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), co-directed by Joel Ivany, the Founding Artistic Director of AtG, and Reneltta Arluk, Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
The seventy-minute filmed performance of Messiah/Complex will showcase multilingual translations, and feature a diverse cast of soloists and choirs representing every province and territory across Canada, accompanied by the exceptional musicians of the TSO and conducted by Johannes Debus (Canadian Opera Company).
“In response to COVID-19 restrictions, AtG has pivoted, recognizing a valuable opportunity to work alongside incredible artists and organizations across our country,” says AtG’s Joel Ivany, on the genesis of Messiah/Complex. “To support, employ, and collaborate with artists from coast to coast on this unifying project has given us hope — something we all seem to need in this fragile moment.”
“We are very pleased to partner with Against the Grain to produce what I believe will be a meaningful and inspired Messiah. We share a belief that a new lens is required for so much of what we do as arts organizations, and this project is an example of our commitment to including diverse voices in our art form,” says Matthew Loden, CEO of the TSO.
Ivany is proud to co-direct Messiah/Complex with visionary theatre-maker and Director of Banff Centre’s Indigenous Arts, Reneltta Arluk — who has provided guidance on creating a safe space for Indigenous artists, including the freedom for the artists to interpret this music in ways that are relevant to their lived experiences and stories.
“How can we sing, act, write, speak, create art with one another in ways that allow for full, uncompromising voices to be heard? By having the courage and vulnerability to trust that what we feel and hear will help us grow to be a better community and ultimately a better country,” Arluk says. “Creating a safe space for leading Indigenous voices to be heard is the reason I do this work,” says Arluk.
AtG has commissioned new translations into multiple languages of Messiah’s standard English text, allowing artists to perform and sing in Dene, Inuktitut, Southern Tutchone, Arabic and French.
“Our work reimagines this standard oratorio by illuminating the diversity of artists across what we now call Canada,” says Deantha Edmunds, a Messiah/Complex featured soloist from Newfoundland and Labrador. ”It is a joy to sing one of my favourite Handel arias in Inuktitut, as translated by a respected Elder and teacher in Nunatsiavut.”
Messiah/Complex features an array of superb Canadian voices, including Jonathon Adams (AB), Looee Arreak (NU), Jully Black (ON), Spencer Britten (BC), Rihab Chaieb (QC), Deantha Edmunds (NL), Leela Gilday (NT), Miriam Khalil (ON), Andrea Lett (SK), Diyet van Lieshout (YT), Julie Lumsden (MB) and Elliot Madore (ON); featured choirs include Le Choeur Louisbourg (NB), the Halifax Camerata Singers (NS), the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (ON), and the University of Prince Edward Island Chamber Chorus (PEI).