SF Opera Lab Presents Ted Hearne's "The Source"

Release date: 1/23/2017    


 February 24-26; March 1-3, 2017 at the Taube Atrium Theater

SF Opera Lab The Source.pdf  Photos Available 

 “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 and Daniel Fish and Jim Findlay’s ambiguous, claustrophobic staging.” (The New York Times)

“Its relevance is the poetic pondering of the universal implications of information and what it can do to us … 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.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Hearne’s piece holds up as a complex mirror image of an information-saturated, mass-surveillance world, and remains staggering in its impact.” (The New Yorker)


SF Opera Lab presents composer Ted Hearne’s universally acclaimed digital-age oratorio The Source, drawn from the contents of Chelsea Manning’s WikiLeaks release and called "some of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory—from any genre” by Pitchfork. Previously performed in New York City and Los Angeles, the six performances of The Source on February 24–26 and March 1–3, 2017 at the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater open Season Two of San Francisco Opera’s SF Opera Lab programming.

The work for four singers and an ensemble of seven musicians features a libretto by Mark Doten that sets Manning’s words and primary-source documents, including sections of the classified material known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary. At the heart of The Source is Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks and whose 35-year prison sentence was commuted last week by President Barack Obama.

Doten’s libretto pulls from a litany of primary source textsincluding Twitter feeds, cable news interviews, personal chat transcripts and declassified military reports, all contemporary to the WikiLeaks scandal. Hearne brings this patchwork of text to life with his signature “maximalism” and collaging, "like an hour's collaboration between Witold Lutosławski, Philip Glass, Jonathan Larson, Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, with driving rhythms reminiscent of a Broadway style of rock 'n' roll, filtered through a computer, put on a loop, then busted open with shades of avant-garde classical or a soulful groove...the work of a true twenty-first-century polyglot" (Opera News).

As Manning’s story continues to unfold, The Source's most powerful asset remains its abstraction. Produced by Beth Morrison Projects and directed by Daniel Fish, with production design by Jim Findlay and video design by Jim Findlay and Daniel Fish, The Source first premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in 2014 and received its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles in October 2016. A recording of the work was released on New Amsterdam Records to much acclaim, landing on the best of 2015 lists for both The New Yorker and The New York Times: “Hurling from propulsive small-ensemble chamber rock to eerie Auto-Tuned ruminations, 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” (The New York Times).

SF Opera Lab will host a post-show Q&A with The Source singers, musicians and creative team members immediately following every performance.


About composer Ted Hearne:

Ted Hearne (b. 1982, Chicago) is a Los Angeles-based composer, singer and bandleader noted for his “voracious curiosity” (NewMusicBox) and “fresh and muscular” music (The New York Times), who “writes with…technical assurance and imaginative scope” (San Francisco Chronicle). A "vocal hellion" (Time Out Chicago), Hearne performs/composes with Philip White as the vocal-electronics duo R WE WHO R WE. He was awarded the 2009 Gaudeamus Prize for his modern-day oratorio, Katrina Ballads. Hearne serves on the composition faculty at the University of Southern California. Recent and upcoming commissions include orchestral works for the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony, chamber works for Eighth Blackbird and Ensemble Dal Niente, and vocal works for The Crossing and Roomful of Teeth. Next month Hearne releases an album of provocative choral music, Sound from the Bench (Cantaloupe Music), performed by The Crossing. The works on the album are Hearne’s virtuosic and hauntingly beautiful musical settings of texts from the Iraq War Logs (Ripple), Bill Moyer’s 2009 interview with The Wire creator David Simon (Privilege), the 2013 case of rape by high school students in Steubenville, Ohio (Consent) and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision (Sound from the Bench).  tedhearne.com

About librettist Mark Doten:

Mark Doten’s novel, The Infernal, about America’s recent military actions and the media’s coverage of them and the end of the world, was published by Graywolf Press in 2015. He wrote the libretto for composer Ted Hearne's The Source, an oratorio about Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks, which had its world premiere at BAM's Next Wave Festival in October 2014, and was called a “21st-century masterpiece” by The New York Times. His writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Guernica, the Believer, and New York Magazine. Doten has an MFA from Columbia University and is the recipient of fellowships from Columbia and the MacDowell Colony. He is the literary fiction editor at Soho Press and teaches in Columbia University's graduate writing program.  markdoten.com.

For the complete press release, including calendar listing, please view the attached PDF.