REDISCOVERING THE UNIVERSE WITHIN
The Santa Fe Opera
Many of us wanted to change the world. Steve Jobs did. A masterful marketer who decried materialism, Jobs led a binary life — magnetic and unapproachable, empathetic and cruel, meditative and restless. He helped connect us all while building a firewall around his own emotions. Jobs’ late-life search for his inner truth is at the heart of this world premiere. Composer Mason Bates’ music blends expressive electronics, including guitar, with rich opera orchestration.
Saturday, 22 July, 2017
Friday, 25 August, 2017
For the production’s opening scene, the black sides of the boxes enclose the dusty garage where Paul Jobs gives his adopted son Steve a workbench for his 10th birthday. Later, as Jobs wanders the hills around Cupertino with Kōbun, the boxes part to reveal the fiery New Mexico sunset on the mountains far beyond the stage. The process for moving the pieces is purely analog, with the ensemble and stage crew collaborating to slide them across the grid. There’s also cutting-edge digital technology at work: infrared beacons on the top corners of each box communicate with projectors in the opera’s rafters to line up images on the glowing planes.
The first full-length opera by the fashionable 40-year-old composer Mason Bates has a solid foundation with the seasoned librettist Mark Campbell and director Kevin Newbury, plus a promising game plan: The storytelling won’t be traditional or linear. Bates and Campbell summed up the opera’s emotional nexus like this: Just because Jobs made the world more seamless, stylish and tidy, the humanity around him didn’t become any less messy. “It’s life simplified versus life out of control,” said Bates.
Six scenes were previewed, each portraying crucial parts to Jobs’ life. During the performance, Bates revealed that he will incorporate an acoustic guitar and electronic sound effects throughout the piece. Guitarist James Moore and conductor and accompanist Robert Tweten played piano throughout the performance.