The Source

Who's Gonna Love it

Fans of Serial, The Skimm, social media lovers and current events junkies.

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Composed by Ted Hearne
Libretto by Mark Doten
Directed by Daniel Fish
Production Design by Jim Findlay
Video Design by Jim Findlay & Daniel Fish
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects

Within a fever-dream assemblage of Twitter feeds, news reports, declassified video and court testimonies, four singers expose the media hysteria surrounding Chelsea Manning, who infamously leaked hundreds of classified documents. Named one of the best classical music recordings of 2015 by The New York Times, this powerful work grapples with how we as individuals and a nation can confront the information Manning exposed.


“A fresh model of how opera and musical theater can tackle contemporary issues.” –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

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

Cast and Creative

Vocalist Mellissa Hughes
Vocalist Samia Mounts
Vocalist Isaiah Robinson
Vocalist Jonathan Woody
Composer Ted Hearne
Librettist Mark Doten
Director/Co-Video Designer Daniel Fish
Production Designer/Co-Video Designer Jim Findlay
Lighting Designer Christopher Kuhl
Costume Designer Terese Wadden
Music Direction Nathan Koci

About The Source

About The Source

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 US-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  Mark Doten's libretto through an assemblage of Twitter feeds, cable news reports, chat transcripts, and classified military video, asking how we, as individuals and a nation, confront the massive information which Manning brought to light.


Letters from the Creative Team

Composer's Note

Read a note from composer Ted Hearne

Librettist's Note

Read a note from librettist Mark Doten

Director's Note

Read  note from director Daniel Fish

Key Players


A former US army private responsible for the largest public leak of classified information in American history. She was arrested in May 2010 on numerous counts of espionage, theft and computer fraud. In January 2017, her 35-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. She will be released in May 2017.


A former hacker who engaged in a far-ranging online chat with Manning, during which Manning spoke of the leaks, as well as her feelings about herself, her gender identity, life in the Army and US foreign policy. Lamo reported her to the authorities, which led to her arrest.


The co-founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. In 2012, facing extradition from the UK to Sweden for alleged sexual offenses, he was granted asylum by Ecuador and has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since that time.

Made Possible By

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





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