I was very familiar with Strindberg’s Ghost Sonatabefore I was commissioned to direct Aribert Reimann’s adaptation for Opera Australia. I studied performing arts at Monash Uni, and it’s one of those great cornerstones of modernist theatre that everyone reads. It’s almost Shakespeare, in that you’re not really allowed to be dramatically literate unless you’ve read a bit of Ibsen and Strindberg.

Ghost Sonata

Reimann is a composer who’s definitely experiencing a big renaissance at the moment. He’s got a couple of productions of his work going around Europe so I was familiar with his soundscape – although I didn’t know Ghost Sonatain particular. It’s only really been properly performed once, which is the version everyone knows by the Deutsche Oper.

I think what makes the music and the words go so well together in the piece is the way that the text itself is designed not to be impenetrable but to have so many layers to it. You can’t really get through it in one reading or one performance. That’s something I’ve been struck by. Every time I peel a layer away, it seems like there’s something going, “oh yeah, but...