In­side Jobs An in­tro­duc­tion

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Loren Bien­venu

there are so many cool sto­ries in opera about cre­ative people,” said com­poser Ma­son Bates, list­ing La Bo­hème, Death

in Venice, and The Tales of Hoff­mann as ex­am­ples. For the sub­ject of his new opera,

The (R)evo­lu­tion of Steve Jobs, Bates chose a cre­ative per­son within the field of tech­nol­ogy: the co-founder of Ap­ple. It seems a nat­u­ral choice for a com­poser best known for meld­ing elec­tronic and acous­tic sounds. Bates is the first com­poser-in-res­i­dence at the Kennedy Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, where he presents DJ and elec­tron­ica mu­sic in ad­di­tion to com­pos­ing for the Na­tional Sym­phony Orches­tra.

A Bay Area res­i­dent, Bates is well at­tuned to Jobs’ stature in tech cul­ture and be­yond. The in­no­va­tor’s di­vi­sive per­sona has cap­tured global imag­i­na­tion al­most as much as the prod­ucts he de­vel­oped. While nu­mer­ous bi­ogra­phies and biopics have ex­plored the life of Jobs, whose cre­ativ­ity was some­times tem­pered with cal­lous­ness to­ward others, this is the first opera to do so. It fo­cuses on the per­sonal jour­ney of the man, seek­ing to paint a cir­cu­lar nar­ra­tive in which Jobs re­claims the hu­man­ity threat­ened by his cre­ative drive.

Bates worked with the much-in-de­mand li­bret­tist Mark Camp­bell to craft Jobs’ story, and they gained the sup­port of the Santa Fe Opera, which com­mis­sioned the piece for a world pre­miere dur­ing this summer’s 61st sea­son. The Seat­tle Opera and San Francisco Opera are listed as co-com­mis­sion­ers, with other sup­port com­ing from Cal Per­for­mances and In­di­ana Univer­sity’s Ja­cobs School of Mu­sic.

The pro­duc­tion seeks to in­no­vate in its own right, “har­ness­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy and fus­ing it with tra­di­tional stage­craft,” in the words of scenic de­signer Vic­to­ria Tzykun.

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