“In a work that asks us to sit and observe this public space, we watch but are also watched… these moments are so precious.
Sophia Brous is an interdisciplinary artist and performer based in New York and Melbourne, Australia. A musician, vocalist, composer, theatremaker and curator, she creates new contemporary performance working with artists, festivals, concert houses and major events internationally. Brous is current resident artist of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) New York, and former artist-in-resident of National Sawdust, The Watermill Center and Red Bull Studios New York. She is a Curator at Large of Brooklyn arts institution Pioneer Works New York, and ongoing Artistic Associate of the Arts Centre Melbourne, where she created Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic in 2015. Brous was 2019 and 2016 finalist of the Melbourne Prize for Music, and recipient of the World Tour Scholarship from the Berklee College of Music. Brous’ practice draws on far-reaching interests in devised performance and collaboration. She works with artists across music, film, theatre, dance and contemporary performance to create new commissioned work for stage, screen, concert hall and public space. Current touring works include the contemporary performance for public space The Invisible Opera (Singapore International Festival, RISING, BAM new work in-residence) and Mount Analogue – A Provisionally Utopian Live Performance Event (world premiere, Oslo Opera House Sept 2022, CpH Stage/The Royal Danish Theatre June 2023). Other recent projects include ‘Weathering’ by Faye Driscoll, for New York Live Arts (world premiere April 2023), multi-artform concert installation Dream Machine for Red Bull Music Festival/Pioneer Works New York (with Iggy Pop, Master Musicians of Jajouka; Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Zeena Parkins, Greg Fox, Dave Harrington); When The World’s On Fire for The Kennedy Centre Washington (with Marc Ribot, Shahzad Ismaily); Ursula K Le Guin’s Music and Poetry of the Kesh for RVNG International (with Okwui Okpokwasili, Sara Serpa, Judith Berkson, Corey Fogel); song cycle Lullaby Movement for Sydney Festival, Operadagen Rotterdam (with Leo Abrahams and David Coulter); and her ongoing New York large ensemble EXO-TECH – founded in 2016 with New Zealand pop innovator Kimbra, featuring collaborators David Byrne, Moses Sumney, Questlove, Yuka Honda, Sean Lennon, L’Rain, Darian Donovan Thomas, Tyondai Braxton and many others. As a performer and vocalist, Brous has appeared in productions for The Barbican, Southbank Centre, BAM, The Kennedy Center, Paris Philharmonie, All Tomorrow’s Parties, DOCUMENTA, Pioneer Works, Oslo Opera House, Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne and Dark MOFO. Noted productions include The Barbican’s In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited (directed by David Coulter); The Arthur Russell Retrospective (BAM); The Southbank Centre’s 200 Motels by Frank Zappa with the BBC Concert Orchestra; Marina Abramovic’s Private Archaeologies (MONA/Dark MOFO); Anthony McAll’s Solid Light Works (Pioneer Works) and motion pictures including Mary Magdalene (2018); Judy and Punch (2019) and The Invisible Mountain (2021). Brous has collaborated with artists across film, theatre and dance including Faye Driscoll, Marina Abramovic, Okwui Okpokwasili, Lara Thoms, Samara Hersch, Gideon Obarzanek, Ben Russell, Nicolas Becker, Garth Davis and Makino Takashi. Alongside her creative projects, Brous is a recognised curator and festival director, and was the Program Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival at the age of 22, Curator of Music of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts and founder and curator of Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic at the Arts Centre Melbourne. She was a presenter on 3RRR Radio Melbourne, and studied music at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston and Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.
The Invisible Opera (premiere 2021)
Creator, Performer, Writer Sophia Brous
Co-Directors Lara Thoms & Samara Hersch
Choreographer & Dramaturg Faye Driscoll
Sound Designer Tilman Robinson
Composers Sophia Brous, Tilman Robinson
& John Also Bennett
Producer Tommy Kriegsmann / ArKtype
The Invisible Opera is a contemporary music theater work specially created for audiences in public space. The 60-minute live performance situates audiences in a seating bank overlooking a familiar or iconic bustling public space, listening through headphones. It invites audiences to observe the city through kaleidoscopic examination of what we see and do not see in our shared environments. Utilizing a rich network of hidden microphones, embedded cast members and large-scale scenic design, The Invisible Opera is an entirely site-specifific work exploring the power relations of public spaces, written and developed especially for the social, political, architectural and urban dynamics of each presenting city environment. an orchestrated musical soundtrack and real-time cacophony of the city center. Across the show’s four acts, the narrator describes all the actions, objects and behaviors happening in a city square in situ – moving from the skyline, weather patterns, and corporate skyscrapers down to the bodies, internal monologues, missed appointments and personal histories of those we encounter, gradually allowing the audience to observe how unseen forces of private ownership, surveillance, tourism and city planning gradually begin to choreograph the square into a manufactured spectacle of epic proportions. Created by Australian multidisciplinary artist Sophia Brous, working with a team of celebrated theatre makers Lara Thoms, Samara Hersch and Bessie award-winning choreographer Faye Driscoll, the work seamlessly blends immersive city-wide sound design, live contemporary opera, and instructional audience dramaturgy to play the city into sound and vision in real-time. The Invisible Opera is an insightful and rejuvenating examination of the dynamics of freedom and public space, and leads us to see the city – and our role within it – in an entirely new light.
Stage: Outdoor Cityscape
Traveling Personnel: 7
Running time: 60 minutes
Performance space: Public Space
The Invisible Opera (premiere 2021)
September 10-12, 2021 | STEIRISCHER HERBST FESTIVAL | Mariahilferplatz, Graz, Austria
June 9-11, 2022 | RISING FESTIVAL, Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
February 22-25, 2024 | PERTH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS, Scarborough Beach Esplanade, Perth, Australia