Photo by Gabe Pezzimenti & James Kunovski

Shaped by Trees

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

Roar Film in association with nineskippinggods production and Foundation IHOS Amsterdam

Constantine Koukias, Biasino William Pezzimenti

Conductor – Warwick Stengårds Librettist – Biasino William Pezzimenti Composer – Constantine Koukias,
Director of Photography – Sandi Sissel Production Designers – Peta Heffernan & Elvio Brianese Casting – Isobel Ferrier Sound – Greg Gurr & David Fraser Projection Design – Mik Lavage Lighting – Jason James Costume & Wardrobe – Elizabeth Monaghan Hair & Make Up Design – Vanda Leigh Electronic Tape Engineers – Donald Bate

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 Greek-Tasmanian composer and opera director based in Amsterdam. His avant-garde approach to opera has resulted in hybrid productions such as Days and Nights with Christ, To Traverse Water, MIKROVION (Small Life – 36 Images in a Phantom Flux of Life), The Divine Kiss, and Tesla – Lightning in His Hand. His most recent large-scale work The Barbarians, inspired by Constantine Cavafy’s famous poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” and commissioned by the Museum of Old and New Art.

His works range from large-scale music-theatre and opera to mobile installation-art events. His compositions have earned acclaim as remarkable for their mesmerising, atmospheric qualities and production designs.

In 1993, he was commissioned by the Sydney Opera House Trust to compose ICON, a large-scale music-theatre piece, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House.

Additional theatre works include Kimisis – Falling AsleepBordersOrfeo, Rapture – Sonic Taxi Performance, Schwa – The Neutral Vowel, Antigone and The Da Ponte Project. Prayer Bells, which draws on traditions of Latin, Hebrew and Byzantine chant, had its USA premiere at the Chicago Cultural Centre.

In 2004, he was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship. His Incantation II for soprano and digital delay won the International Valentino Bucchi Vocal Prize in Rome in 1997. His design credits include the internationally acclaimed Odyssey and Medea.

In 2014-15, Kimisis – Falling Asleep, a chamber opera for soprano and electric trombone, had its Netherlands premiere at Splendor Amsterdam and later toured to the Karavaan Festival.

Warwick Stengårds


Following a four-year engagement as Assistent Generalmusikdirektor at the Volksoper Wien and a seven-year tenure as Erster Kapellmeister at the Luzerner Theater, Warwick Stengårds is a freelance conductor based in Vienna.

In addition to an extensive symphonic canon, Stengårds has a music-theatre repertoire of over 100 works performing with companies such as Vienna State Opera, Volksoper Wien, Folkoperan Stockholm, Opera Australia, Victoria State Opera, Chamber Made Opera and West Australian Opera where, in 1991, he was appointed Music Director.

Operatic highlights include the world premieres of Koehne’s Love Burns, Tahourdin’s Heloise and Abelard, Ingham’s Transfigured Night, Koukias’ MIKROVION, Australian premieres of Turnage’s Greek, Williamson’s Our Man in Havana, and regional premieres of Wozzeck and The Rake’s Progress.

In Europe, Stengårds has conducted the Ulster Orchestra, the SL Orkester, the Uppsala Kammarorkester, Klangforum Wien, the Wroclaw Philharmonic, the Rundfunk Sinfonie-Orchester Saarbrücken (featuring soloist Andreas Scholl), DalaSinfoniettan, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, the European Doctors Orchestra and the Nürnberger Symphoniker.

Recent projects included:

Wozzeck (Gurlitt), Ariane (Martinu), Barbara Strozzi (Gräwe – World Premiere) and concerts for the Luzerner Theater.Tyranny of Distance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Einstein Cantata with SonicFiction and concerts with the Luxemburg Philharmonie. Purcell’s Fairy Queen in South Africa, the world premiere season of Naske’s Das Städtchen Drumherum at the Vienna State Opera, Die Csardasfürstin in Leipzig, Bluebeard’s Castle in Melbourne and concerts with Soundstream Collective. Concerts with the Australian Philharmonic, Monash Academy, Luxemburg Philharmonie and Klangforum Wien are among future projects.

Sandi Sissel


Sandra Sissel is an American cinematographer, director and producer. Sandi is best known for her work in documentaries such as Salaam Bombay!, Chicken Ranch, Mother Teresa (1986) as well as TV shows like 60 Minutes, and feature films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

She has been a member of the American Society of Cinematographers since 1994 and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2004.

Sandi started college in 1967. She pursued her interests and desire to become a reporter by studying journalism and television. While she still wanted to pursue journalism, she did contribute to a few small films during her time in college. After completing this degree, she moved to Wisconsin with her husband, where she taught and filmed for the University of Wisconsin.

After this career, she moved to New York City where she soon got a job with both NBC and later ABC. During this time, she contributed as cinematographer for The Wobblies and assisted in camera or electrical work for Best Boy, Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists, Fame, No Nukes and Rush. After working for ABC for a few years, she eventually decided to pursue a career that focussed primarily on cinematography for documentaries and feature films.

In her pursuit of this career she has gained a great deal of respect from her colleagues as a female working behind the camera. She currently teaches Advanced Cinematography Techniques and Advanced Cinematography Practicum at Tisch School of the Arts.

Elvio Brianese and Peta Heffernan

Production Designers

Architects Peta and Elvio are co-founding directors of the interdisciplinary practice Liminal Studio based in Hobart, Australia. Underpinning the Studio’s philosophy is the belief that collaborative design across disciplines drives innovative thinking. Liminal Spaces is the part of the Studio where areas of research, investigation, and participation go beyond the traditional realms of architecture, ranging from delivering award-winning architecture and interiors to acclaimed collaborations in contemporary performances, exhibitions, and festivals to roles influencing the framing of cultural policy.

Their design approach to performance explores how space and meaning can be manipulated with minimal forms, where the interaction between the performer and the space define one another. This has led to award-winning collaborations with IHOS for Kimisis – Falling Asleep, which debuted at MONA FOMA in 2010 and toured internationally in 2014 and 2015; The Barbarians (MONA FOMA, 2012); the experiential installation ECHO Part 1 – A Neurological Soundscape (2013), and also the Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production Born from Animals (2014), which won the award for Best Professional Design at the inaugural Tasmanian Theatre Awards.

Greg Gurr

Sound Design

Greg began his interest in audio at 16 while still at school in Tasmania. Throughout his career, he has worked as an acoustic jazz and contemporary music concert engineer, a film and video sound recordist, and a designer/engineer in a variety of theatre performance. Some of the highlights of Greg’s career have included engineering the sound for Roy Orbison, Don Burrows, Ivan Rebroff, The Angels, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGee and touring with international acts 10CC, ELO, and The Stranglers. Greg was also sound recordist on Words and Silk, an award winning documentary on author Gerald Murnane.

Greg’s first IHOS production was Days and Nights with Christ in 1997. Since then he has designed and operated the sound for productions including the small music theatre works Kimisis – Falling Asleep, Kitchen Table Rondo, and Prayer Bells and the large-format productions The Divine Kiss, Sea Chant, Tesla – Lightning in His Hand, and The Barbarians for the Museum of Old & New Art.

He also designed the works for the IHOS Music Theatre Laboratory including Spirits of the Hoist, Schwa – the Neutral Vowel, As if Electronically ControlledTouch Wood and Antigone.

Following his retirement from ABC TV, Greg has focused on other interests such as photography, 3D recording, and plane-wave technology in audio design.

Jason James


Jason works with electricity to make art.  He has had several artworks presented in festivals, and galleries, around Tasmania. He has designed lights, and or projection, for dozens of professional productions. He has a strong focus on new Australian works, and projects with social benefit. He won two Tasmanian Theatre Awards for lighting design: Terrapin’s Big Baby in 2015, and Hobart Rep’s Speaking in Tongues in 2020.

Selected recent credits include design for Bleeding Tree for Archipelago Productions,  Dark Path Dark MOFO 2019, Backwards from Winter, Echos, The Barbarians, and Kimisis IHOS Opera; Riddle of Washpool GullyRed Racing Hood, Big Baby, Pip and Pooch, Shadow Dreams, Sleeping Horses Lie, and Love Terrapin Puppet Theatre; F*ckBabel Invisible Practice, What Rhymes with Cars and Girls,  Born from Animals, Tasmanian Theatre Company; Flux, Wild at Heart, Motel Dreaming Unconscious Collective;  Seven Deadly Sins, Handmaid, Abandoned Dances, Episodes, Birds, Sing for Me Mature Age Dance EnsembleLet Me Dry Your Eyes Second Echo Ensemble. for a full list of works.

Mik Lavage

Production Design

Mik Lavage is an Australian sound and vision designer, composer, and musician. Working on stage and screen, Mik has been nominated for AFI awards (screen) and worked on shows nominated for the Helpmann Awards (stage).

Mik has collaborated with a broad range of artists and companies from the ancient Greek leanings of IHOS to the acrobatic worlds of The Tom Tom Crew, Company 2, and Strange Fruit, and has performed worldwide in Melbourne, Munich, Montreal, Detroit, Paris, and Taipei, among other locations. He currently tours globally with The Orkestra of the Underground, Company 2, IHOS, Hermitude, and Toni Childs working as a sound designer, a musical performer, and a designer of interactive visual elements.

Mik is also a graduate of AFTRS (Australian Film, Television & Radio School) in music composition for film, and has produced numerous albums as a solo artist as well as with Toni Childs. His music has been featured in many dance, theatre, and film productions that range from political documentary to feature film.

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