Steve Jobs opera set to premier this week after two years of preparation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2017
Almost two years after the Santa Fe Opera commissioned "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs," the narrative, music and rehearsals are complete and the production is set to open this Saturday as part of a limited six-show run.




Showtime and ticketing information for "Steve Jobs" was recently posted to the Santa Fe Opera website, along with a brief explainer detailing the opera's inspiration.

With a composition from Mason Bates accompanied by librettist Mark Campbell, the production aims to tackle Jobs' life and times as Apple's cofounder, tech guru and public figure. The commission was first announced in 2015.

Throughout the course of 19 scenes, beginning with the launch of iPhone in 2007, the opera navigates the transformative experiences of Jobs' life, from his days at Reed College to his time with spiritual advisor Kobun Chino Otogawa to the launch of the Apple I.

As can be expected, personal relationships appear to feature prominently in the production. Scene synopses and a cast list show interactions with Steve "Woz" Wozniak, former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, wife Laurene Powell Jobs and father Paul Jobs. In true opera fashion, Otogawa's ghost makes multiple appearances.

The story itself weaves back and forth between decades, a technique reminiscent of flashbacks in movie making.

"The libretto for 'Steve Jobs' has a very non-linear narrative," Campbell said. "We create a story where he is confronting his own mortality [and] decides to look at a few places in his past."



As for music, Bates said he often looks to exotic forms in creating operatic compositions, and "Steve Jobs" provides an opportunity to capitalize on those themes. Bates, playing off Jobs' role as the man who revolutionized communications, offers a unique score filled with electronic sounds.

"I think this can really be taken to its full fruition," Bates said. "Where every character has very distinct sound worlds, whether it be the inner world of Steve Jobs which is quicksilver, acoustic guitar-picking electronica, to 'Maurosianic' lyrical harmonies of Laurene Powell Jobs, his wife, to the kind of diffuse, electro-acoustic sound world of Kobun, Steve Jobs' spiritual advisor. What happens when those worlds collide?"

A sampling of the music can be heard on Santa Fe Opera's Soundcloud page.

"The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" opens on Sat., July 22 with a showing at 8:30 p.m., to be followed by another performance on Wed., July 26th. The opera will play for an additional four shows in August. Ticket prices range from $114 to $310 and can be purchased online from the Santa Fe Opera website.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17

    2 movies (or 3), documentaries, operas... what's next? Musicals? Choose-your-adventure-book ("sell Pixar, or continue to invest", "get bought by Apple, or continue with NeXT")?  Video games? TV series? The Animated series?

    Does the term "rest in peace" mean nothing to these guys?

  • Reply 2 of 17
    There are many people who relate that they went into careers in science, medicine, etc. because of growing up watching classic Star Trek episodes. This is reportedly a great source of pride for the family of that show's creator and many of its surviving cast members.

    Nowadays, we see men in their mid-to-late twenties trying to imitate their hero based solely on the distorted characterizations that they have seen in books and shows --even going so far as to experiment with LSD (thank you Walter Isaacson), all the while plowing through other people's money trying to produce apps and websites that will "change the world".

    It may be too late for Apple to set the record straight (with its own heavily promoted historical features that keep Steve in the context of Apple/NeXT) and we may see malignment of the entire industry as one run on snake-oil disasters like Snap, Uber and thousands more on their way.

    Then again, who would go see a corporate opera about Ken (except Steve) --maybe if they have Kyrre do the score for Steve's?

    edited July 2017 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 17
    It doesn't seem like there's enough info here to really tell if it's worthwhile. Statistically speaking, it's not likely. No one can seem to wrap their heads around the dynamism and dichotomies that made Steve Jobs who he was, so they try to find a simple answer in the form of some sort of emotionally driven motivation. For example, I was very much looking forward to the Sorkin movie, but it seemed too laughably bad from the pre press and previews; sorkins laugably simplistic way to conceptualize Jobs was as a control freak. None of the books or movies I'm familiar with (aside from Becoming Steve Jobs), seems to accept that behind all the complexities there was a pretty simple core, which Steve even explicitly repeated over and over. To me, it seems fairly clear that his primary motivations in life, overall, were 1) making great products, and 2) doing so in such a way that the wold would be a better place. Everything else was a distant second. (I'm excluding family and friends in this since I don't have a strong sense of that, although I do think I remember that he said his family was actually his first priority). I've never met him, so of course I could be off, but I feel like what I just said was closer than what almost any other movies and books have said. If anyone feels I'm Right or wrong about any of this, I'd love to hear it. 
  • Reply 4 of 17
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    It doesn't seem like there's enough info here to really tell if it's worthwhile. Statistically speaking, it's not likely. No one can seem to wrap their heads around the dynamism and dichotomies that made Steve Jobs who he was, so they try to find a simple answer in the form of some sort of emotionally driven motivation. For example, I was very much looking forward to the Sorkin movie, but it seemed too laughably bad from the pre press and previews; sorkins laugably simplistic way to conceptualize Jobs was as a control freak. None of the books or movies I'm familiar with (aside from Becoming Steve Jobs), seems to accept that behind all the complexities there was a pretty simple core, which Steve even explicitly repeated over and over. To me, it seems fairly clear that his primary motivations in life, overall, were 1) making great products, and 2) doing so in such a way that the wold would be a better place. Everything else was a distant second. (I'm excluding family and friends in this since I don't have a strong sense of that, although I do think I remember that he said his family was actually his first priority). I've never met him, so of course I could be off, but I feel like what I just said was closer than what almost any other movies and books have said. If anyone feels I'm Right or wrong about any of this, I'd love to hear it. 
    He claimed his family was his highest priority, but early on it seemingly wasn't if we go by the actual results.
     I think that post 2000, it probably was.

    Sorkins story is mostly about the "asshole" period of Jobs life....
    The post NeXT failure period were part of hist transition towards a more introspective Jobs.
    So, it only really appears somewhat in the 1998 period.

    Considering the movie was about very short stressful periods, infering anything beyond that on Jobs as a whole goes beyond what even the movie purports to do.


  • Reply 5 of 17
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,409member
    foggyhill said:
    It doesn't seem like there's enough info here to really tell if it's worthwhile. Statistically speaking, it's not likely. No one can seem to wrap their heads around the dynamism and dichotomies that made Steve Jobs who he was, so they try to find a simple answer in the form of some sort of emotionally driven motivation. For example, I was very much looking forward to the Sorkin movie, but it seemed too laughably bad from the pre press and previews; sorkins laugably simplistic way to conceptualize Jobs was as a control freak. None of the books or movies I'm familiar with (aside from Becoming Steve Jobs), seems to accept that behind all the complexities there was a pretty simple core, which Steve even explicitly repeated over and over. To me, it seems fairly clear that his primary motivations in life, overall, were 1) making great products, and 2) doing so in such a way that the wold would be a better place. Everything else was a distant second. (I'm excluding family and friends in this since I don't have a strong sense of that, although I do think I remember that he said his family was actually his first priority). I've never met him, so of course I could be off, but I feel like what I just said was closer than what almost any other movies and books have said. If anyone feels I'm Right or wrong about any of this, I'd love to hear it. 
    He claimed his family was his highest priority, but early on it seemingly wasn't if we go by the actual results.
     I think that post 2000, it probably was.

    Sorkins story is mostly about the "asshole" period of Jobs life....
    The post NeXT failure period were part of hist transition towards a more introspective Jobs.
    So, it only really appears somewhat in the 1998 period.

    Considering the movie was about very short stressful periods, infering anything beyond that on Jobs as a whole goes beyond what even the movie purports to do.


    I find dramatic contradictions between both Steve Jobs movies and what I see watching him in person on YouTube and what I read about him in the Isaacson biography...

    The Kutcher movie portrays him as an ambitious, petulant asshole only concerned with his himself and gaining power and control.
    The Fassbender movie portrays him as a self-involved mean spirited jerk.

    I find that both are caricatures that take a minor trait and blow it up and distort it to represent the whole (mostly reflecting their own failings rather than Jobs') while ignoring other very important traits -- often the most important ones...

    For myself, I find him totally involved in his creation (Apple/Pixar/NeXT and its products) but also needing and being very good at nurturing human connection.   But, his creation always came first on his priority list -- which I think confused the movie makers.  They only saw him from the human connection perspective and then only negatively and both portrayed him as a failed human being. 
    ...  But they were less interested in portraying Jobs accurately than they were selling their movie....

    I doubt that this play will be any better. 
  • Reply 6 of 17
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 640member
    It is interesting that so many commenting here seem to have known SJ personally therefore they are justified in finding fault with any artistic endeavor to use Jobs as its subject. Nobody can truly know any other person at best we can meld the perspectives from those that have loved, worked with, been loved by, been chastised or inspired by the late great visionary to form some vague portrait of a human being. What a lot of people don't understand is that art is not a spread sheet with one simple way of stating facts. Art is about revealing something hidden in plain site or something 20 layers beneath the surface. 

    I loved the Danny Boyle move not because it confirmed something I thought I knew about Jobs but instead it abstracted his character allow it too been seen from different angles which were reflected in his business and personal relationships. The fact that so many criticized events depicted in that movie as not in sequence according to actual documented events says many viewers can only accept a dry documentary approach to Jobs' life not realizing that even documentaries also have a point of view by the director. 

    I've seen some experimental operas and for me the music is the most important element. I wish the video had played some of the music to give us a hint at what to expect. Opera traditionally is a fantasy where just about anything can happen on stage and if done well the audience goes along on that journey. I assume the creators of this new opera will attempt to do the same. 
    jeffharris
  • Reply 7 of 17
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,482member
    2 years of preparation for a limited six-show run?
  • Reply 8 of 17
    An opera, play, or other work of art isn't supposed to be a documentary, regardless of where it gets its inspiration. If you've seen the play or movie Amadeus, you'd never know that Antonio Salieri in reality was a friend and supporter of Mozart.
    spice-boy
  • Reply 9 of 17
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    Noah Wylie is 46 years old. I'm hoping that in another 4 or 5 years somebody will get the band back together and do a sequel to the Pirates of Silicon Valley. 
  • Reply 10 of 17
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 640member
    jd_in_sb said:
    2 years of preparation for a limited six-show run?
    Performance pieces can incubate for much longer than two years, part of the process is to stage it somewhere and then re-work it after. Some famous Broadway musicals had the writer's and composers sitting in the audience during rehearsals and previews making notes for changes that were needed and could only be discovered once seeing it performed. If the show works well enough it may be performed at other venues in the coming years, Limited runs for pieces like this is common. 
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 11 of 17
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,348member
    jd_in_sb said:
    2 years of preparation for a limited six-show run?
    This about par for the course for the world premiere of a modern opera. All of it is new: music, libretto, production, staging, set, costumes, lighting, etc. It's not like the Santa Fe Opera has notes to refer to on how to produce this piece or has witnessed a different production elsewhere, like they would have for Carmen or La Bohème.

    Six performances for an opera in a season is also pretty normal. Opera is very expensive to produce and if you can't fill the seats, you won't stay in business very long. Only a handful of opera houses in the world can support longer runs. Of course, it is easier to attract audiences with the most popular, crowd-pleasing operas like the two I mentioned. Most opera companies produce several operas in a season, some being very popular and accessible, others being a more obscure. 

    For example, for the Metropolitan Opera's 2017-18 season, they have 15 performances of Puccini's La Bohème, 6 of Richard Strauss's Elektra and 8 of Thomas Ades's The Exterminating Angel, just three of the many operas that they will perform in the season; one can see the variability in number of performances per opera. The Met is one of the top opera companies in the world, with an large sophisticated audience to support that volume of performances.
    edited July 2017 spice-boy
  • Reply 12 of 17
    Kiww Amewio, kiww Amewio...
  • Reply 13 of 17
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,409member
    spice-boy said:
    It is interesting that so many commenting here seem to have known SJ personally therefore they are justified in finding fault with any artistic endeavor to use Jobs as its subject. Nobody can truly know any other person at best we can meld the perspectives from those that have loved, worked with, been loved by, been chastised or inspired by the late great visionary to form some vague portrait of a human being. What a lot of people don't understand is that art is not a spread sheet with one simple way of stating facts. Art is about revealing something hidden in plain site or something 20 layers beneath the surface. 

    I loved the Danny Boyle move not because it confirmed something I thought I knew about Jobs but instead it abstracted his character allow it too been seen from different angles which were reflected in his business and personal relationships. The fact that so many criticized events depicted in that movie as not in sequence according to actual documented events says many viewers can only accept a dry documentary approach to Jobs' life not realizing that even documentaries also have a point of view by the director. 

    I've seen some experimental operas and for me the music is the most important element. I wish the video had played some of the music to give us a hint at what to expect. Opera traditionally is a fantasy where just about anything can happen on stage and if done well the audience goes along on that journey. I assume the creators of this new opera will attempt to do the same. 
    The trouble is:   most people only know Steve Jobs by his products and by the 2 major movies that were made about him.   But, since both of those movies showed only his difficult, demanding, petulant side without showing his reasonable and positive side, then they walk away with a false impression of him.

    You can blame it (correctly) on art.  But the fact remains that that's all most people know -- and its wrong.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,415member
    Can't wait to hear the singer playing the part of Steve Jobs as they sing (and I'm paraphrasing): "You should all hate yourselves for letting down your team!" and "This is $#!&!".
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 15 of 17
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 640member
    spice-boy said:
    It is interesting that so many commenting here seem to have known SJ personally therefore they are justified in finding fault with any artistic endeavor to use Jobs as its subject. Nobody can truly know any other person at best we can meld the perspectives from those that have loved, worked with, been loved by, been chastised or inspired by the late great visionary to form some vague portrait of a human being. What a lot of people don't understand is that art is not a spread sheet with one simple way of stating facts. Art is about revealing something hidden in plain site or something 20 layers beneath the surface. 

    I loved the Danny Boyle move not because it confirmed something I thought I knew about Jobs but instead it abstracted his character allow it too been seen from different angles which were reflected in his business and personal relationships. The fact that so many criticized events depicted in that movie as not in sequence according to actual documented events says many viewers can only accept a dry documentary approach to Jobs' life not realizing that even documentaries also have a point of view by the director. 

    I've seen some experimental operas and for me the music is the most important element. I wish the video had played some of the music to give us a hint at what to expect. Opera traditionally is a fantasy where just about anything can happen on stage and if done well the audience goes along on that journey. I assume the creators of this new opera will attempt to do the same. 
    The trouble is:   most people only know Steve Jobs by his products and by the 2 major movies that were made about him.   But, since both of those movies showed only his difficult, demanding, petulant side without showing his reasonable and positive side, then they walk away with a false impression of him.

    You can blame it (correctly) on art.  But the fact remains that that's all most people know -- and its wrong.
    Did you know Steve Jobs? Your comment suggest you may have. 
  • Reply 16 of 17
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,409member
    spice-boy said:
    spice-boy said:
    It is interesting that so many commenting here seem to have known SJ personally therefore they are justified in finding fault with any artistic endeavor to use Jobs as its subject. Nobody can truly know any other person at best we can meld the perspectives from those that have loved, worked with, been loved by, been chastised or inspired by the late great visionary to form some vague portrait of a human being. What a lot of people don't understand is that art is not a spread sheet with one simple way of stating facts. Art is about revealing something hidden in plain site or something 20 layers beneath the surface. 

    I loved the Danny Boyle move not because it confirmed something I thought I knew about Jobs but instead it abstracted his character allow it too been seen from different angles which were reflected in his business and personal relationships. The fact that so many criticized events depicted in that movie as not in sequence according to actual documented events says many viewers can only accept a dry documentary approach to Jobs' life not realizing that even documentaries also have a point of view by the director. 

    I've seen some experimental operas and for me the music is the most important element. I wish the video had played some of the music to give us a hint at what to expect. Opera traditionally is a fantasy where just about anything can happen on stage and if done well the audience goes along on that journey. I assume the creators of this new opera will attempt to do the same. 
    The trouble is:   most people only know Steve Jobs by his products and by the 2 major movies that were made about him.   But, since both of those movies showed only his difficult, demanding, petulant side without showing his reasonable and positive side, then they walk away with a false impression of him.

    You can blame it (correctly) on art.  But the fact remains that that's all most people know -- and its wrong.
    Did you know Steve Jobs? Your comment suggest you may have. 
    No, I didn't know him.   But I have been very interested in him and trying to understand him.   So, I have paid more attention to other things than the 2 movies about him -- including watching and listening to him in his presentations and his talks as well as his more detailed, in depth biography.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    bestkeptsecret said:
    Video games?
    A "tower defense" game where you keep Samsung, Microsoft, and Google operatives from stealing your designs.
    TV series?
    Well, no one told you that your stuff would be stolen! *clap clap clap clap*
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