Photo by Gabe Pezzimenti & James Kunovski

Shaped by Trees

A film opera in pre-production
By Biasino William Pezzimenti and Constantine Koukias

Libretto by Biasino Pezzimenti & Music Composition by Constantine Koukias
Screenplay by Biasino Pezzimenti & Constantine Koukias

Behind-the-scenes video by Marco van Middelkoop

REMEMBERING EVA, our protagonist, tells us her story in a nursing home, where she is suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s and of a tired heart. Her disease teases her mind with things that are both real and imagined. We observe her across three stages of her life.

We see her back in time as EVA, struggling but surviving. She supports herself as an exotic dancer. She is independent and resourceful on the outside, but inside she burns for love who needs to get away from her troubled family past and from her dangerous serpentine life. Courageous and bold, she breaks ties, removes boundaries, and then finds one inconceivable person with whom she transcends the farthest point of her dreams to reach an uneasy freedom that will later terrorize her soul. Both profane and holy, she is a woman born from God’s mercy and retribution, an exotic dancer who at one point declares about her young seminarian lover, “He was only a burn…an unfinished tattoo on my heart.” This man, MONTE, entered her shadowed life in a surprisingly unintentional encounter that ultimately reconstructs both of them, forever.

We see her as YOUNG EVA during the central stage of her life, where all of her life begins. She is hurt and isolated by her toxic parents and their childish arguing. To neutralize their obscene and loud bickering, she retreats to her cloistered bedroom and reads, over and over again, a poem entitled “Shaped by Trees.” It provides her comfort and a gentle environment that is otherwise hard to find in her young, impressionable life. Young Eva is a constant dreamer, travelling in her mind with nature, love, and harmony with a heart that is pure and kind.

MONTE, an Australian aboriginal, is an idealistic and disciplined seminarian student with a non-negotiable belief in the Church and its power. Order and ceremony defines his world, in which truth is only found in Christ’s words. But one extraordinary evening, he meets a young exotic dancer, an uncommon woman who in a moment serves all the sensual appetites to a man who has only known measured aloofness and preparation for the priesthood. At this moment, his life is changed. He will remain in conflict with his immovable, dominating church and his love for Eva.

Monte’s spiritual aspirations begin to flicker brightly, like the light in Eva’s mind, as their love for each other ignites. The two lovers are at a dangerous crossroads in their young lives. They carelessly break traditions and, in doing so, are become exposed raw and exposed. They are left with only mercy, beautiful lust, and sanctuary within nature’s indomitable spirit.

EVA Exotic dancer (Soprano)
Remembering EVA Eva, later in life (Soprano)
Young EVA Speaking voice
MONTE Aboriginal seminarian student (Baritone)
AUGUSTINE Catholic priest (High Baritone)

Conductor – Warwick Stengårds

Flute – (Piccolo), Oboe – (English Horn), Soprano Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Bassoon – (Contra Bassoon),
Ondes Martenot, Strings, Harpsichord, Piano, and Percussion (3 players) with Pre Recorded Tape.


Exotic dancer (Soprano)
The title character, Eva is independent and not gagged by tradition or falsehood. A free-spirited woman, freshly unconventional, who does everything with endless passion.

She is intoxicating and unfaltering in her courage, but there is also sadness in her freedom. A radiant woman who has always wanted real love yet finds herself in a most unremarkable, soulless place of lechery surrounded by lonely, greedy men. Uncannily, her work in the shadows as an exotic dancer returns her to another dim place years later—the result of an impassable disease that distorts and obstructs her entire existence. She is spiritual, beautiful, intelligent, and rebellious.

Remembering EVA
Eva, later in life (Soprano)
Eva in her later years takes us back and forth in time within her troubled mind. She is a weary old woman damaged by grief, love, and deception. Still wise and perceptive, however, she takes us to her dark places as she battles Alzheimer’s. Both deceitful and faithful, her memories fight as we observe a tired woman haunted by a past that is unreliably bleak and divinely real. Throughout her sickness, demons stalk and defile the love she once enshrined.

Young EVA
Speaking voice
“A sixteen-year-old Eva, she gives us a glimpse of her abusive family life. She spends most of her time when home in her sparse room reading poetry. She focuses on one poem, “Shaped by Trees,” which she loves for its mystical, soothing warmth. It is this poem that has cloaked her and comforted her throughout her young life while, outside her bedroom walls, she hears her parents loudly arguing, their marriage one of cruelty and selfishness. Idealistic and mature for her age, she lives in an imaginary world of relief against the hostility of her parents and loves nature, dancing, and enchantment.

Aboriginal seminarian student (Baritone)
Monte, an Australian Aboriginal adopted at birth, was raised in a very strict Catholic family. We meet him as a young seminarian student who is proudly disciplined and who blindly believes in the absolute power of the Church, which provides him an environment of power and influence for which he is well-trained. Yet, there is an unlikely side to him that reveals itself slowly. He has a charming sense of humour and a tender, compassionate heart. Like Eva, he, too, is restless, which fosters the lusty, unpredictable side to his principles and beliefs—a side that shows itself after he enters a strip club, out of curiosity rather than lasciviousness, on the extraordinary evening that he meets an uncommon woman who unleashes his deeply buried sensuality and awakens an earthy but also sacred spirit within him.

Catholic priest (High Baritone)
A kind, gentle priest, calming and caring to the patients in the nursing home. He is the son of Eva and Monte.

Biasino William Pezzimenti


Biasino William Pezzimenti is a writer/poet. He has over 30 years experience working in television and radio.

The author of numerous radio segments and provocative satirical comedy skits, he wrote and co – produced many wild and darkly humorous commercials on radio stations in Buffalo, New York. He has received numerous accolades for his writing including the Best Radio Commercial at the New York State Broadcast Awards.

Biasino wrote the lyrics and co- wrote the acoustically moving love song ‘ Still Life’ with a New York City based singer- songwriter. It was recorded in the Fast Folk Magazine label and archived by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

His self published book of poetry, Shooting Ghosts is considered forthright, confronting and at times darkly comedic. Shaking down the branches that hold the modern world together.

Biasino has trained English and non English media  executives and senior managers in the US, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Great Britain and Canada.

Accidentally born in Melbourne, Australia and raised in Buffalo, New York; he played cowboy in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Sydney, Australia. Bill works wherever a flight is available.

Constantine Koukias


Constantine Koukias is a producer of music, opera, and film.

Based in Amsterdam since 2013, he has created productions for the stage and screen ranging from large-scale music theatre and opera to mobile installation art and digital events.

His production-design credits from a career spanning over four decades include the internationally acclaimed Days and Nights with Christ (1990), To Traverse Water (1992), MIKROVION (Small Life – 36 Images in a Phantom Flux of Life) (1994), Medea (1995), Odyssey (1995), PULP – An Industrial Opera (1996),The Divine Kiss (1998), Sea Chant (2001), Tesla – Lightning in His Hand (2003), The Barbarians (2013), Backwards from Winter (2018), and A Deep Black Sleep (2023).

In 1993, he was commissioned by the Sydney Opera House Trust to compose the large-scale music-theatre piece ICON, in celebration of the building’s twentieth anniversary.

He has been commissioned by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania, for Kimisis – Falling Asleep (2010), The Barbarians (2013), and Before the Flame Goes Out (2017). A Deep Black Sleep, a film-noir opera, premiered at the MONA FOMA festival in 2023.

Since 2018, Koukias has produced two short films: A Day in June (2018; dir. Peter Sieben) and The Pain of Others (2023; dir. Slaviša Drobnjaković). He is currently in planning and pre-production stages for Eros & Thanatos (2024; dir. Drobnjaković) and Shaped by Trees.

From 2024–2027, he will be producing a series of documentaries and performances for the new work Primordial.

Anke Höppner

Remembering EVA (Soprano)

Anke Höppner was born in Germany and studied with Professor Renate Faltin at the Hanns-Eisler Conservatorium in Berlin. She won first prize in the Hanns-Eisler Liederwettbewerb (the award for the best vocal graduate in the German Democratic Republic) and, in 1993, the Bayreuth Stipendium. In 2001, she won the Helpmann Award for best female operatic performance.

An early association with Komische Oper, Berlin, led to principal roles in Les Brigandes, Die Zauberflöte, Orfeo ed Euridice, La Cenerentola, and Der Freischütz. Anke then began to take larger roles in many German theatres including the title role in Jenufa, Abigaile in Nabucco, Lisa in Pique Dame, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, Charlotte in Werther, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena for the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landestheater; and Mrs Grose in The Turn of the Screw for both Neue Opernbühne Berlin and the Otono Festival in Madrid. She also appeared as Brautjungfer in Der Freischütz for the Staatsoper in Berlin.

Upon moving to Australia in the 1990s, Anke was quickly offered engagements by Opera Australia. For the national company, she has sung the title roles in Iphigénie en Tauride, Jenufa, Madama Butterfly and The Gypsy Princess, Mimi in La bohème, Lucretia Janz in Batavia, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, The Foreign Princess in Rusalka, and Emilia Marty in The Makropulos Secret.

For State Opera South Australia, Anke performed the title role in Madama Butterfly and Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana. She sang Lucretia Janz for the Perth International Arts Festival and the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the role of Procne in The Love of the Nightingale for Victorian Opera and Opera Queensland.

Concert engagements have included Liederabende with songs of Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, and Dvorak in the London Opera Festival, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Melbourne International Music Festival, and Barossa Music Festival; Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem with the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Sinfonieorchester; Mozart’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmonie; Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonieorchester and the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Sinfonieorchester; Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck with the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Halle, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tasmanian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras. In recent seasons, she has sung the title roles in Turandot for Opera Australia and Tosca for West Australian Opera; Minnie in La fanciulla del West for West Australian Opera and Opera Australia; Leonore in Fidelio for Opera Queensland and Opera Australia; and The Witch in Hansel and Gretel for State Opera of South Australia. She also repeated her portrayal as Procne in Sydney and appeared as Gerhilde and 3rd Norn in Opera Australia’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in Melbourne. In 2014, Anke returned to Perth as Tosca.

Sarah Jones

EVA (Soprano)

Born in Tasmania, Sarah moved to Sydney in 2005 and completed a Master of Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium. Sarah performed for Opera Australia’s NSW Schools Company in Sid the Serpent (2011), Cinderella (2009), The Barber of Seville (2008) and The Magic Flute (2007). Other engagements include Soprano II in Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang (Willoughby Symphony, 2011), Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: La Traviata (Opera Australia, 2012) and Opera Australia’s Opera Gala (2010). In Australia, Sarah appeared regularly with ensembles such as Cantillation, Pinchgut Opera, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and has recorded for ABC Classic FM.

In 2010, Sarah created the role of Spirit in FOX, a new opera for children (Monkey Baa Theatre), and premiered the one-woman chamber opera KIMISIS for IHOS Opera/MONA FOMA. In 2011, she performed the lead role of Rose Pickles in excerpts from George Palmer’s new opera Cloudstreet, and also appeared as Papagena in The Magic Flute (Pacific Opera and Canberra Symphony Orchestra).

In 2012, Sarah commenced work at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden as the winner of the 2012 German Australian Opera Grant. She debuted seven roles in her first season, ranging from Valencienne in Die lustige Witwe to Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She was retained as a full ensemble member for the 2013–14 season, singing roles such as Christel in Der Vogelhändler and Satirino in Cavalli’s La Calisto. She is currently working as a freelance singer, singing Pamina/Papagena, Gretel, Fatime (Weber’s Abu Hassan), and Bastienne for Junge Oper! in schools across Germany. In December 2014, she revived her interpretation of Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. In April 2015, she sang Lesbina in a concert performance of Galuppi’s Il filosofo di campagna, and in May 2015 she appeared with Ensemble Mattiacis as Amor in da Gagliano’s La Dafne as part of the International Maifestspiele in Wiesbaden. In January 2016, she played Amor in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice for Pocket Opera Wiesbaden, a role which she had already sung as a jump-in at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden.

Don Bemrose

AUGUSTINE (Baritone)

Don Bemrose is of Gungarri descent and has worked hard to become Australia’s foremost male Aboriginal classical opera singer. In professional productions, Don has sung four leads, three of which were world premieres of new Australia opera works: Pecan Summer (Short Black Opera Company, 2010), From a Black Sky (The Street Theatre, 2013), and Cloudstreet (State Opera of South Australia, 2016).

After achieving his childhood dream in 2012 of performing for Opera Australia in two productions, Don moved to the nation’s capital to commence life with his wonderful partner. Don’s success can be attributed to an amazing extended family who have educated him culturally, spiritually, and emotionally, creating a ferocious curiosity to explore this amazing planet and connect with all there is. Don’s beautiful grandmother Nana Ruth Hegarty and the Gungarri tenor Harold Blair inspired in Don a passion for singing and classical music.

Don graduated with a Bachelor of Music Performance in 2011 from the Victorian College of Arts, University of Melbourne. He continues to evolve his pure vocal delivery honing his craft and training his lyric baritone voice with the incredible Raymond Connell.

Don recognises it is his path to take a passion for classical music and the operatic voice and infuse it with his strong cultural heritage and positive thinking to educate, inspire, and entertain.

Aria Johanna Pezzimenti

Girl EVA

Aria Johanna Pezzimenti is from Sydney, Australia. Aria attends St. Scholastica’s College. She previously studied at Los Carmonas Flamenco Dance School for ten years. Aria has sung locally in two live performances including jazz cabaret and a ’60s themed show. This is Aria’s first film, and she is extremely excited to have the opportunity to work alongside such accomplished and talented people.

Biasino William Pezzimenti

Konstantin Koukias