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The Document-Dump Drama

WikiLeaks meets Verdi at the S.F. Opera Lab.


Secrecy, war, and treason are all rich veins for opera to mine. Yet you’ve never seen them explored quite the way they are in Ted Hearne’s oratorio The Source, based on Chelsea Manning’s WikiLeaks release.

The work employs seven live musicians, a quartet of highly Auto-Tuned singers, and projected images and video of missile launches and classified documents, all set to a taut and at times rocking score. The work is presented as the first installment of season two of the S.F. Opera Lab, in which nontraditional works are staged in the intimate, 299-seat Taube Atrium Theater. And with the commuting of Manning’s 35-year sentence earlier this year by the outgoing president, The Source is about as topical as any opera is likely to get.

The Source runs Feb. 24–26 and Mar. 1–3

Originally published in the March issue of
San Francisco  

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