The Source

Composed by Ted Hearne 
Libretto by Mark Doten
(excerpts from libretto here)

“A 21st-century masterpiece, Ted Hearne’s harrowing oratorio about Chelsea Manning and her revelations to WikiLeaks blends rock propulsion, chamber-music intimacy and four eerie, Auto-Tuned voices to create an enigmatic space of reflection on horrors of recent history, aided by Mark Doten’s collage text.”
Zachary Woolfe / The New York Times


Album Release 10/30/15 From NEW AMSTERDAM RECORDS

It evokes our time, the age of atomized digitized information, more potently than any piece of music I’ve heard
David Hajdu / The Nation

Did you know that one of Erykah Badu's collaborators made what could very rightly be called an opera about Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks?... [S]ome of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory—from any genre.

Seth Colter Walls / Pitchfork


Mr. Hearne’s oratorio about Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks doesn’t aim to score easy political points. Instead it does what great art should: It pushes you to think and feel about the world in new ways.... “The Source” (with a brilliant collage libretto by Mark Doten) is remarkable and essential.
Zachary Woolfe / The New York Times /  "Best Classical Recordings of 2015"


Composed by Ted Hearne
Libretto by Mark Doten
Directed by Daniel Fish
Video by Jim Findlay
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects

SF Opera Lab
February 2017

 LA Opera at REDCAT Theater
October 2016

Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival
October 2014

“The Source,” which L.A. Opera presented at the redcat space, underneath Disney Hall, is the undoubted winner of this year’s award for Acutely Uncomfortable Relevance. I arrived at redcat immediately after watching the final Presidential debate, at which Hillary Clinton mentioned apparent links between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence.... Still, Hearne’s piece holds up as a complex mirror image of an information-saturated, mass-surveillance world, and remains staggering in its impact....“The Source,” based on a libretto by Mark Doten, is a mesmerizing and disquieting collage of vocal, instrumental, and recorded sounds. 
Alex Ross / The New Yorker / “Modern Opera Thrives in L.A.

Using source material from WikiLeaks and emails between Manning and Adrian Lamo, the hacker, librettist Mark Doten sifted through unmanageable masses of information in a way the news media and politicians haven’t: as poetry. All the while he reminds us where this material came from and its broad implications, human and social.... The opera itself makes vivid the confusing yet crucial bigger picture of how we handle, and how free we are to handle, information — a subject our leaders do their best to avoid.
Mark Swed / The Los Angeles Times / “WikiLeaks at the Opera: What Chelsea Manning-inspired music says about government secrets

Presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October, The Source is an oratorio (of sorts) for four singers, their voices electronically processed in real time, and a small ensemble. The patchwork libretto, by Mark Doten, is drawn from the classified documents disclosed to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, as well as instant messages and bits of interviews. Mr. Hearne sets these fragments to a score that confidently swerves from chamber-music intimacy to rock propulsion to spooky calm. In Daniel Fish’s spare staging, the mood remained steadily ambiguous and haunting. Refusing to make the expected, easy political points, 'The Source' ended up being a beautiful, sad, altogether crucial reflection on our time.
Zachary Woolfe / The New York Times / “Best Classical Vocal Performances of 2014”

[H]arrowing.... an unconventional multimedia work, but a disembodied one in which the visual elements deliberately raise more questions than they answer. ... Mark Doten’s libretto is drawn directly from those leaked documents and from the chat log of Pfc. Manning and the hacker Adrian Lamo, who turned her in. But this is no ripped-from-the-headlines documentary; rather, Mr. Hearne creates an environment of chaos and disorientation that gradually and excruciatingly envelops the listener.
Heidi Waleson /  Wall Street Journal

Photo credit top image: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

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