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“The painting is more a psychological landscape than a portrait, a portrayal of a state of mind rather than a place”.

Laura HoptmanPast curator of the New York Museum of Modern Art

Dorothy Hewett and Ross Edwards’ operatic interpretation of the art work has us dancing deep in the psychological aspects of the piece and the fascinating character of Christina. All three artists: Wyeth, Edwards and Hewett all draw their inspiration from the natural environment and the elements.

We first meet Christina as an elderly lady with “a gnat in her brain”. I am keen to explore how she slips between memory, reality and the imaginary. Since childhood life she suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth Syndrome: A hereditary disorder that damages nerves to arms and legs making it difficult and painful to physically move around. Through her life, she would drag herself and with her sore failing limbs around the family farm. She is limited to life on the farm and the neighbouring sea so in this opera I find she creates her world in which reality and imagination can be blurred. She is curious to know what lies beyond her boundaries, what is beyond the Black Mountain, the thrill of a greater world or impending death.

We are taken back in time to 1940 where she first falls in love and she and her world loses its innocence. This is parallel with a time of world war with the drastic loss of innocence and a difficulty in finding hope.  She fights hard to hold on to her memories.

This Australian opera is so beautiful and unique. I am very excited and proud to be back at State Opera directing such a gem.


Nicholas Cannon