A drone opera by Gregor Schwellenbach

With: Justine Hauer, Manuel Klein, Andreas Meidinger

Composition and artistic direction: Gregor Schwellenbach
Text: Lothar Kittstein et al.
Space and costumes: Annika Ley

Premiere: October 13, 2016, theaterimballsaal, Bonn

“Unmanned aerial vehicles,” called drones, are playing an increasingly important role in military conflicts. Among the population, the idea of a possible lowering of the inhibition threshold in life-and-death decisions and increasingly automated warfare causes enormous unease. In contrast, the military’s goal is to prevent civilian casualties and protect its own soldiers through the use of drones.

Ethically problematic is also the asymmetry created by drone use: While the victims perceive the approaching danger at most by a whirring sound in the air, the pilot sits far away and absolutely safe. Reconnaissance electronics and high-resolution screens make it possible. It is now well known that the pilots’ psyche is sometimes even more severely stressed here than in traditional combat operations.

Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Gregor Schwellenbach, who most recently wrote the composition for ARBEITSSCHLACHTEN for the fringe ensemble and developed the musical production ZUCKER, dedicates himself to this tense complex of themes in DRONES and draws inspiration from a musical genre that was first described as drone music by the American minimalist composer La Monte Young. John Cale and The Velvet Underground transposed it into rock music; today drone music is a vibrant subgenre of experimental music, at once close to electronic music and related to archaic musical cultures. For his libretto, Schwellenbach uses Lothar Kittstein’s monologue “Autopilot” as well as texts from science, the Internet and the press to create a perfect soundtrack to the multi-layered drone debate with his drone opera.

A production of Drones GbR/fringe ensemble. Sponsored by: Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of the State of NRW, Federal City of Bonn.