Peak Performances Presents World Premiere of New Opera

“Zinnias – The Life of Clementine Hunter” runs January 31 through February 3 at the Kasser Theater

Photo: Stephanie Berger

A scene from "Zinnias - The Life of Clementine Hunter" at Montclair State University's Alexander Kasser Theater.

The world premiere of a new American opera, Zinnias – The Life of Clementine Hunter, will be presented at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater from January 31 to February 3. Produced by Peak Performances, Zinnias is conceived, directed and designed by Robert Wilson and tells the story of Clementine Hunter, one of the most important self-taught American artists of the 20th-century.

Even though she didn’t begin painting until she was in her 50s, Hunter produced thousands of boldly-colored works drawn from her experiences working and living on a southern cotton plantation during the last century. Many of her paintings now hang in museums across the country as well as in private collections.

The libretto and musical composition for the one-act opera are by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, and story and book are by Jacqueline Woodson.  Zinnias’ music is steeped in southern blues, traditional hymns and chants, and zydeco and a New York Times review described the opera as an “inspiring story told through unpretentious, fluent songs that are amalgams of folk, rockabilly, and gospel performed with gorgeously full-throated gusto by a talented cast.”

Performances are scheduled for January 31 and February 1 at 7:30 p.m., February 2 at 8:00 p.m. and February 3 at 3:00 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office, by calling 973-655-5112 or online at There is no charge for Montclair State University undergraduates with valid ID. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before curtain to claim your PAF ticket.