Electronica-Infused Steve Jobs Opera to Come to SF

The set design for Steve Jobs' office in Mason Bates' new opera about the Apple founder, 'The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.' Set design by Vita Tzykun. (Photo: Courtesy of Santa Fe Opera)

Since passing away from cancer in 2011, Steve Jobs has been the subject of several films and books. Now the Grammy-nominated, Bay Area-based symphonic composer and electronic dance music DJ Mason Bates is bringing the Silicon Valley entrepreneur back to life in a new opera.

Electronica-Infused Steve Jobs Opera to Come to SF

Electronica-Infused Steve Jobs Opera to Come to SF

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Based on Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is Bates’ first full-length work for the opera stage. It’s an unconventional piece, packed with computer-generated sounds and a time-frame that jumps back and forth between episodes in Jobs’ life.

Bay Area composer Mason Bates, the force behind a new opers about Steve Jobe premiering at Santa Fe Opera this summer, San Francisco Opera is a co-producer and is expecting to mount the work in its 2019-2020 season.
Bay Area composer Mason Bates, the force behind a new opera about Steve Jobs premiering at Santa Fe Opera this summer, San Francisco Opera is a co-producer and is expecting to mount the work in its 2019-2020 season. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

"Opera is the best medium to tell the story of Steve Jobs, because opera can do what no book or movie can do -- it can present the different inner thoughts and feelings of characters simultaneously by having different musics happening at the same time," Bates says. “This is the perfect vehicle for exploring the life of a man who changed the way we communicate.”

Cal Performances (the performing arts presenter at U.C. Berkeley) and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) helped birth the project by underwriting two workshops of the opera with $100,000 in development support. Following the success of the last workshop, which was held at SFCM last fall,  San Francisco Opera (SF Opera) came on board as a co-commissioner.

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SF Opera's general director, Matthew Shilvock, was initially skeptical about the project. "Steve Jobs is not just an iconic figure, he’s part of who we are in the Bay Area, and I was concerned to make sure it was a piece that would have a real resonance," Shilvock says. "But after attending the workshop at the San Francisco Conservatory, I felt that this was the right piece for San Francisco."

The company announced Tuesday its plan to bring The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs to the War Memorial Opera House during its 2019-2020 season. But audiences can catch it sooner than that, at Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, where it will received its world premiere in July.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs runs Saturday, Jul. 22 through Tuesday, Aug. 15 at Santa Fe Opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tickets and information here.

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