Ted Hearne’s ‘The Source’ opens at SF Opera Lab

Mellissa Hughes in ‘The Source’ at SF Opera Lab © James Matthew Daniel

San Francisco Opera opens Season Two of its SF Opera Lab programs this week with a contemporary oratorio, The Source, by composer Ted Hearne – a work which has as its subject the dramatic 2010 release by US Army Private Manning of hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

For the score of this oratorio for four singers and an ensemble of seven musicians, Hearne has pulled together an eclectic range of pieces  – described on his website as “auto-tuned recitatives, neo soul ballads, icy string trios and moments of cracked-out musical theater”.

The content, by librettist Mark Doten, is taken from a combination of Chelsea Manning’s own words, as well as thousands of primary-source documents – including Twitter feeds, cable news interviews, personal chat transcripts and declassified military reports – and sections of the US military documents known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary.

The New York Times referred to The Source as “A 21st-century masterpiece …. remarkable and essential”. According to The Los Angeles Times, it “….. makes vivid the confusing yet crucial bigger picture of how we handle, and how free we are to handle, information …..”.

Isaiah Robinson in ‘The Source’ © Noah Stern Weber/MASS MoCA

A Beth Morrison Production, The Source was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2014, and had its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles in October 2016.

SF Opera Lab presents six performances of The Source – from February 24 to 26, and from March 1 to 3 – at the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, in the Diane B Wilsey Center for Opera.  For further information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Opera website

Ted Hearne – The Source

Mark Doten


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