Image credit: Lucy Spartalis

A Drone Opera2020-02-27T11:37:46+11:00

The sublime beauty and terrifying reality of flying intelligence.

A Drone Opera


A Drone Opera viscerally explores the rapidly developing technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, and their social and cultural impact. Artist Matthew Sleeth directs an experimental multimedia performance featuring drones, their pilots and opera singers, combined with a new sound score, laser light design and moving image.

Feeling the drones’ air displacement and hearing their rotor sound, audiences will experience this robotic technology first hand, shifting their knowledge of drones from political abstraction into embodied experience in time and space. Curious about their potential to re-shape our world, Sleeth has designed, built and programmed customised drones specifically for the performance context.

Sleeth’s largest work to date, A Drone Opera also features an inspiring line-up of collaborators, including experimental artists Kate Richards, Robin Fox, Phil Samartzis and Susan Frykberg, lighting designer Bosco Shaw and choreographer Shelley Lasica.

Matthew Sleeth is an Australian artist living and working between Melbourne, Australia and New York City, USA. His conceptually driven practice uses a range of media, including sculpture, photography, video and public installation. Sleeth’s work has been presented widely in Australia and internationally, including at the Odense Triennial, Odense, Denmark; Berlin Photography Festival, Berlin; Noorderlicht Photofestival, Groningen, Netherlands; Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice, Italy; Art Chicago, Chicago, USA; Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne; and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Sleeth’s work is held in various public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Artbank, Sydney, Australia; Monash University Museum of Modern Art (MUMA), Melbourne; Brandts Museet, Odense, Denmark; Lyons HouseMuseum, Melbourne; Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Sydney; and Deutsche Bank, Australia. Recently, Sleeth worked with fellow artists Ben Quilty and Myuran Sukumaran to support an art program in Kerobokan Prison, Bali, Indonesia.

Director Matthew Sleeth
Producer & Dramaturge Kate Richards
Executive producer jonathan parsons
Written by Matthew Sleeth, Kate Richards
Composer and Librettist Susan Frykberg
Soprano Judith Dodsworth
Countertenor Hamish Gould
Bass-Baritone Paul Hughes
Dramaturg Kate Richards
Characterisation Judith Dodsworth
Drone Pilots Matthew Sleeth, Matthew Tynan, Lloyd Hassell, Roger Meagher
Cinematography David McKinnar
Additional Cinematography Matthew Sleeth, Sherwin Akbarzadeh
Editors Matthew Sleeth, Kate Richards
Laser Set Design Robin Fox
Sound Design Philip Samartzis
Lighting Design Bosco Shaw
Choreographic Consultant Shelley Lasica
Production Management Bosco Shaw, Jennifer Hector
Audio Facility Windmill Audio
Re-Recording Mixer Pip Athertone-Reid
Colorist Dee McClelland
Visual Effects John Kerron

A Drone Opera installation further information and contact details.


A Drone Opera is commissioned by Experimenta. Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.