Inside Jobs An introduction
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.