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.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs begins at a critical moment in Jobs’ life and circles back to examine the people and experiences that shaped one of the most influential figures of our time: his father’s mentorship, his devotion to Buddhism, his relationships, his rise and fall as a mogul, and finally his marriage to Laurene Jobs, who showed him the power of human connection.
Mason Bates, a genius at combining traditional symphonic orchestration with electronic sounds, composes this world premiere opera with master librettist Mark Campbell. It captures the buzzing sphere of Silicon Valley with a kinetic electro-acoustic score, an absorbing non-linear narrative, and a high-tech production.
Saturday, 22 July, 2017
Friday, 25 August, 2017
“Campbell and Tsykun’s extremely visual narrative and Bates’s music reveals the conflicted energy from which spring words and events. A gripping and illuminating musical, dramatic, and visual achievement — one that transcends the divides of generations and genres — has just joined the operatic canon.”
“Sets, lighting and projections (devised respectively by Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, Japhy Weideman and 59 Productions) work as a piece. [..] The imagery of Jobs’ life is projected, often in energetic juxtaposition (circuit boards, press clippings, Zen calligraphy), and a scene where he does LSD with his girlfriend in an apple (!) orchard gets woozy indeed.”
“The projection design is a very important part of the storytelling,” Campbell said. “How can you create an opera about a man who advanced technology so much and not have a technically advanced production?” [..] With “(R)evolution” — which took two years to develop — projections take the audience inside settings like the California apple orchard that inspired the company’s name, and on stage at an iPhone launch event.”
“It’s 2007, and Steve Jobs has just finished launching the first iPhone before an enraptured audience when he nearly collapses, exhausted by the illness that will kill him four years later.
At this moment in Mason Bates’ opera “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” a harrowing sound emerges from the orchestra pit, a crushing downward progression that’s described in the score as an “electronic shutdown.”
“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.”
A Santa Fe Opera World Premiere production. Commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and San Francisco Opera, with support from Cal Performances. A co-production with Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with a special thanks to San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Victoria “Vita” Tzykun
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