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The Source

By Ted Hearne


“A 21st-century masterpiece. Remarkable and essential.  It does what great art should: It pushes you to think and feel about the world in new ways.” – The New York Times

How far would you go do what's right?

In a penetrating new music-theater work, composer Ted Hearne and director Daniel Fish dive into the world of Chelsea Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents. Private Manning’s conviction and sentence provoked a maelstrom of media coverage, ranging from portraits of Manning’s personal life to new dialogues about military abuses. Neither a linear depiction of the events leading to Manning’s eventual arrest nor a retreading of the media hysteria surrounding her story, The Source 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.

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 an assemblage of Twitter feeds, cable news reports, chat transcripts and classified military video. The Source asks how we, as individuals and a nation, confront the massive information which Manning brought to light.

Click here to read the program.

LA Opera’s presentation of The Source is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional support provided by donors to LA Opera’s Contemporary Opera Initiative.

The Source was commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and Judy & Allen Freedman, with additional commissioning support from Justus & Helen Schlichting.

Join us for a  special party, sponsored by Time Out Los Angeles, immediately following the performance on Friday, October 21, 2016.


There are currently no upcoming performances.

 Performances of The Source will take place at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 
631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Please note, The Source is a general admission seating with no reserved seat locations and no late seating.

Approximate running time: 75 minutes; no intermission.


Creative Team


The text of The Source is taken from various American primary-source texts, mostly dating from 2005 to 2010.

The U.S. military documents known as the "Iraq War Logs" and "Afghan War Diary" form a central part. These classified communications, leaked from the Department of Defense by Pfc Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning), were release in 2010 by WikiLeaks and their media partners.

Manning, 22 years old at the time and stationed in Iraq, was reported to the authorities by the famed former hacker Adrian Lamo and arrested in May 2010. Manning had sought out Lamo online, drawn by his reputation as a hacker, his public support of WikiLeaks, and possibly his sexual orientation. (Manning was aware that Lamo is bisexual and worked for greater LGBT rights in the 1990s.) The two engaged in a far-ranging online chat, during which Manning spoke of the leaks, as well as her feelings about herself, her gender identity, life in the Army, U.S. foreign policy, secrecy and her hopes that her actions would lead to "worldwide discussion, debates and reforms." Excerpts of these chats, published by Wired.com, are set to music in this piece as well.

Other sources include tweets from Lamo defending his decision to turn in Manning, an array of questions that journalists posed to Julian Assange in 2010, and selections of interviews, radio, social media and popular music, drawn from mostly the same time period as the leaks.

(In August 2013, Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment on numerous counts of espionage, theft and computer fraud, as well as several military infractions. Following her sentencing, she made public her transgender status and requested the treatments necessary for her gender transition.)

News & Reviews





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