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San Francisco Opera Lab presents The Source an oratorio by composer Ted Hearne and librettist Mark Doten, based on the leaked classified Department of Defense documents and communications by Chelsea Manning. It’s a multi-media work, with four singers, whose voices (when singing text from the documents) are electronically altered. The words of Manning herself are also included, who at the time was beginning the process of transitioning from Bradley to Chelsea.

There’s more information at the San Francisco Opera website.

“When these leaks came out, in the spring and summer of 2010, and Chelsea Manning became a public figure, her story and her struggle, and the content of those leaks themselves became what I was interested in dealing with in the piece,” Ted Hearne says. He had used the vocal processing before, with his band ‘R WE WHO R WE’ (a collaboration with Philip White) and thought it would be a good way to deal with the language of the cables and documents. “I love the sound of it, and when I was dealing with these cables, it felt strangely appropriate. I think because of the massive amount of distance that I was feeling. I was in Brooklyn, and these people were in Iraq. Both the American servicemen and woman who were over there, and also the Iraqis. Something about the auto-tune and the sound of that, and this sort of feeling of singing a duet with your barely human roboticized counterpart… It felt like it somehow was the sound of alienation or distance.”

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