Matthew Barclay's interest in music and performance goes back to his youth in the late 1970's, and four years as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral Choir, Melbourne. He then performed in the first Australian tour of the musical Evita, directed by Harold Prince, and trained in dance at the Victorian College of the Arts. He went on to graduate in classical ballet from the Australian Ballet School, and worked as a performer, teacher and choreographer in music theatre. His onstage introduction to opera came in 1988 as a dancer in Dame Joan Sutherland's farewell performances of The Merry Widow at the Sydney Opera House. He next performed in the first Australian tour of Cats, and danced in opera productions of Samson et Delilah, Iolanthe and Faust with the former Victorian State Opera. With The Australian Opera, Matthew danced in several productions, including Fiddler on the Roof, Hansel and Gretel, Adriana Lecouvreur, Macbeth, Romeo et Juliette and Alcina.
Around this time, he staged S'wonderful for Sydney Opera House Trust starring Judi Connelli and Simon Gallagher, and semi-staged musicals Into the Woods at the Victorian Arts Centre and Mack and Mabel at Sydney's Theatre Royal featuring some of Australia's leading celebrity performers, followed by choreography for NIDA's production of The Villain of Flowers for Jim Sharman's New Australian Musical Foundation. As a result of this work, Matthew was invited to create choreography for the National Opera Workshop production of The Eighth Wonder, the development of an original Australian opera composed by Alan John in 1992.
In education, Matthew developed movement and theatre workshops for schools including Melbourne's Knox College & Methodist Ladies College, Opera Australia's Young Artist's Program, for Sydney Conservatorium of Music as a guest teacher of opera stagecraft, acting and movement. He also devised and directed a new adaptation of Offenbach's Die Fledermaus for Sydney Conservatorium.
In management, Matthew served four years on the board of The Song Company, Australia’s leading a cappella ensemble performing vocal music from the 10th century through to the 21st century, under the artistic leadership of Roland Peelman. He is currently Board Chair of Places + Spaces, a not-for-profit company producing arts events and programs within the music sector of NSW, with the aim of increasing audiences and improving arts infrastructure. Matthew is a graduate in arts management from Deakin University's Bowater School of Management, and studied italian language at Università per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy.