The Source was commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and Judy & Allen Freedman with additional commissioning support from Justus & Helen Schlichting.
Residency support provided by MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning gave hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. However, The Source is not a linear depiction of the events leading to Manning’s eventual arrest and the 35-year prison sentence she has been serving since 2013, nor is it a retreading of the media hysteria surrounding her story. Instead, the opera approaches Manning's identity by engaging with the content of the leaks themselves: that is, the day-to-day accounts of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through a larger than life four-channel video installation created by Daniel Fish and Jim Findlay, a chorus of silent witnesses looms. Four singers are housed alongside the audience in a visceral installation. Singing with (at times) electronically-processed voices, and accompanied by a live ensemble of seven instrumentalists, they inhabit (through Mark Doten's libretto) an assemblage of Twitter feeds, cable news reports, chat transcripts, and classified military video (including “Collateral Murder”), asking how we, as individuals and a nation, confront the massive information which Manning brought to light.
“BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE OF 2014"
-The New York Times
“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.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“It offers a fresh model of how opera and music theater can successfully tackle contemporary issues: not with documentary realism — television and film have that covered — but with ambiguity, obliquity, even sheer confusion.”
-The New York Times
“Hearne manages to evoke both Manning’s inner conflicts and the vast global consequences of her actions.”
The Source is funded in part by an award from The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in addition to the Puffin Foundation and New Music USA.
Photos by James Daniel and Noah Stern Weber