Skip to main content

Our first look at the Steve Jobs opera is here

Our first look at the Steve Jobs opera is here

Share this story

Photo by Ken Howard / Santa Fe Opera via The Ringer

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, an original opera about the Apple co-founder, opens at the Santa Fe Opera this week. The Ringer has a great interview with its creative team out today, and it includes two images of the show.

The first (above), shows Garrett Soronson as Steve Wozniak and Edward Parks as Steve Jobs, presumably in the famous Apple I garage office / lab. The second shows Parks’ Jobs presenting the original iPhone in 2007.

Photo by Ken Howard / Santa Fe Opera via The Ringer

The show was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera back in summer 2015, with music by Mason Bates and a libretto by Mark Campbell. Bates is a jack-of-all-trades, who moonlights as an electronic DJ and has composed lauded symphonies, operas, and film scores, including the score for Gus Van Sant’s 2015 film The Sea of Trees. He was nominated for a Grammy this year for the classic contemporary composition Anthology of Fantastic Zoology.

He told The Ringer that he landed on a “folk-electronic hybrid” for the show, to capture the “busy” inner soul of Jobs.

Campbell is best known for his 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, which is based on the 2005 World War I film Joyeux Noël. He’s also written contemporary operas based on classic films like The Shining, The Manchurian Candidate, and Dinner at Eight.

Obviously, there is already a wealth of dramatic dissections of the Jobs story, including nine documentaries, four feature films, and an Off-Broadway play. The most recent and most high-profile film, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, had a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that hewed so closely to the structure and tone of a dramatic play that it might as well have been considered a theatrical work. So it’s debatable that there’s much of a reason for a Steve Jobs opera to exist.

But Campbell told The Ringer that Jobs’ story is better suited to opera, pointing out, “Sometimes a representational medium like television or movies can’t really get at the essence of something precisely because it’s so literal... Opera can handle communication unlike any other, because we can have the different interior thoughts of people happening simultaneously by having their music played at different parts of the stage.”

The opera opens this week at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico, and will also have limited runs in San Francisco and Seattle.