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The Source is an oratorio by American composer Ted Hearne, with libretto by Mark Doten. The work concerns the WikiLeaks disclosures of United States Army soldier Chelsea Manning.[1][2]

The Source
Oratorio by Ted Hearne
LibrettistMark Doten
October 2014 (2014-10)

The libretto for The Source is drawn from document disclosures as well as instant messages and interviews,[3] including messages sent from Manning to former hacker Adrian Lamo.[4] The piece features four singers embedded in the audience, a seven-piece musical ensemble, and four video screens.[1] The voices of the singers are at times electronically modified with Auto-Tune.[5] The video screens show the faces of people looking at something, which is revealed at the end to be footage from the "Collateral Murder" video of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, in which civilians were killed.[3][6]

The Source premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October 2014.[7] The New York Times listed the work as one of the best classical vocal performances of 2014.[8] According to the composer, Chelsea Manning has heard the piece (played for her over the phone by her supporters while she was imprisoned), and liked it.[9]

The Los Angeles Opera staged the west coast premiere of The Source in October 2016.[10][11] The west coast tour continued with a run at the San Francisco Opera beginning in February 2017.[5][12]


  1. ^ a b Tim Grieving (October 14, 2016). "Chelsea Manning as opera: Story of transgender WikiLeaks figure unfolds in 'The Source'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Georgia Rowe (February 21, 2017). "From coal miners to Chelsea Manning — the world of oratorios has changed". The Mercury News. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Zachary Woolfe (October 24, 2014). "Shadowed, Clamoring, Blurry. And With Reason". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Mark Swed (October 20, 2016). "WikiLeaks at the Opera: What Chelsea Manning-inspired music says about government secrets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Ryan Kost (February 20, 2017). "Composer Ted Hearne sets Chelsea Manning's leaks to music". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  6. ^ Tom Bemis (February 21, 2017). "'Source' takes on Chelsea Manning controversy". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  7. ^ Jeff Lunden (October 25, 2014). "Oratorio Tackles The Issue Of Leaks From 'The Source'". NPR. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Zachary Woolfe (December 11, 2014). "The Best Classical Vocal Performances of 2014". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  9. ^ Zachary Woolfe (February 21, 2017). "A Chelsea Manning-WikiLeaks Opera, Seen in a New Light". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  10. ^ "LA Opera to Stage Ted Hearne's THE SOURCE This Fall". Broadway World. September 15, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  11. ^ Alex Ross (December 12, 2016). "Modern Opera Thrives in L.A." The New Yorker. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  12. ^ Michael Zwiebach (February 21, 2017). "What The Source Exposes About Truth and Identity". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved February 25, 2017.

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