A new artistic collaboration between Seattle Opera and three partner organizations will result in a world-premiere inspired by the late Steve Jobs, visionary co-founder of Apple and Pixar. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will first play at Santa Fe Opera in July 2017 before coming to Seattle Opera for its west coast premiere during the 2018/19 season.
This highly-anticipated performance represents a new direction for Seattle Opera, with many collaborations planned for the next two years. Partnerships between artists and multiple opera companies allow for the creation of the same beloved art but in a way that’s more financially sustainable. From grand opera at McCaw Hall to chamber pieces performed in the community, Seattle Opera will continue to be involved in projects that push the art form to new heights, and in new directions said Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang.
“(R)evolution tells the story of a man who was brilliant, yet unknowable as he led a cultural transformation in the digital age,” Lang said. “It’s an honor for us to be working with Santa Fe Opera and San Francisco Opera to create a work that illuminates a side of Steve Jobs we’ve never seen before.”
Jobs led a binary life — magnetic and unapproachable, empathetic and cruel, meditative and restless. He helped people connect all while building a firewall around his own emotions.
“(Composer) Mason Bates’ new opera is a deeply layered, moving portrayal of a man grappling with the complex priorities of life, family, and work,” said San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock. “Like all great operas, I have been so impressed by how it speaks to the universality of the human condition. This is not just an opera about one man. It is an opera about all of us.”
The story takes off at a critical moment in the CEO’s life and circles back to examine the people and experiences that shaped him the most: 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.
Making his Seattle Opera debut is composer Mason Bates, a master at combining traditional symphony orchestra with electronic sounds. Joining Bates on the creative team are several Seattle veterans: Librettist Mark Campbell, of the famous Silent Night, who made his Seattle Opera debut with As One (2016), and Kevin Newbury, director of stage and screen who returns following Mary Stuart (2016).
In the spirit of Jobs’ innovation in the tech industry, this production promises to push boundaries. Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, the production’s scenic designer, says the products and experiences that Jobs dreamed up defied expectations and provided a sense of wonder.
“Capturing that sense of wonder is very important to us in this production,” said Tzykun, who made her Seattle Opera debut with Semele (2015). “In order to provide that for modern audiences, we are harnessing cutting-edge technology, and fusing it with traditional stagecraft in a way that will create a world that has not yet been seen on an operatic stage.”