San Francisco Opera Presents Bay Area Premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs September 22–October 7
Scenes from The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Photos: Ken Howard/Santa Fe Opera
Grammy Award-Winning Co-Commission by Composer Mason Bates and Librettist Mark Campbell Exists at the Intersection of Creativity, Technology and Human Communication
Mason Bates (composer); John Moore (Steve Jobs); Sasha Cooke (Laurene Powell Jobs);
Bille Bruley (Steve Wozniak); Wei Wu (Kōbun Chino Otogawa); Olivia Smith (Chrisann Brennan)
Kevin Newbury Directs and Michael Christie Conducts a Cast Featuring John Moore, Sasha Cook, Bille Bruley, Wei Wu and Olivia Smith
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 31, 2023) — San Francisco Opera’s 101st season continues with the highly anticipated Bay Area premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs opening on Friday, September 22. The San Francisco Opera co-commissioned opera by Bay Area composer Mason Bates and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell is presented in its original production directed by Kevin Newbury. Conductor Michael Christie leads the San Francisco Opera cast, Orchestra and Chorus, prepared by Chorus Director John Keene. Bates joins the Orchestra in the pit to perform the score's electronic components.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is a 90-minute, electro-acoustic opera in one act which follows the titular tech mogul through a series of non-linear flashback episodes. Mason Bates said, "The story of Steve Jobs exists at the intersection of creativity, technology and human communication—a thematic crossroads that opera can explore unlike any other medium." The work expands on the Wagnerian concept of leitmotifs—melodies assigned to specific actions and characters—as the persons in the story have their own soundworlds. "Each character in this opera walks onstage with not only a theme but an entire sonic identity," said the composer. "As they interact, their musics collide, blending almost as if mixed by a DJ."
Proclaimed “a winning opera” by the Los Angeles Times at its 2017 world premiere in Santa Fe, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 2019. The work has been presented by seven different opera companies and in multiple productions. San Francisco Opera's performances, originally scheduled for June 2020 and delayed by the pandemic, will bring the work to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley environs that provide its setting.
The intersection of music and technology is a central tenet of Mason Bates' creative work as a composer, DJ and curator. Championed by conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Riccardo Muti and Marin Alsop, Bates' symphonic compositions have receive widespread acclaim for their unique integration of electronic sounds. He is a former composer-in-residence for both the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and is the co-founder and artistic director for Mercury Soul, a presenter known for combining electronica and classical music. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is Bates' first opera for which he collaborated with librettist Mark Campbell. At the forefront of the contemporary opera scene, Campbell's libretti credits include notable new operas like As One, The Shining and Elizabeth Cree. Campbell's 2012 collaboration with Kevin Puts on Silent Night won the Pulitzer Prize for music.
Kevin Newbury returns to San Francisco Opera, where he has directed Bellini's Norma and Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to stage his original, fast-moving production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Conductor Michael Christie, who led the first performances of Bates and Campbell's opera and the Grammy Award-winning recording, will be on the podium. Christie made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2013 leading the world premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
About the staging, the Seattle Times commented: “And we have to talk about the ridiculously gorgeous production design, which uses projection and lighting cues to transform a spare set of white-screened rectangular boxes into all of the locations and moods the story needs.” The production showcases the work of set designer Victoria (Vita) Tzykun, lighting designer Japhy Weideman with projection designs by Ben Pearcy and London-based 59 Productions, whose credits include the acclaimed production of Philip Glass’ Satyagraha presented by the Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera. Costumes for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs are designed by Paul Carey and the sound designer is Rick Jacobsohn. San Francisco Opera Dance Master Colm Seery is the revival choreographer.
The cast is headed by baritone John Moore who makes his Company debut as the iconoclastic Steve Jobs. Hailed for his "handsome timbre, unflagging energy, and an easy command of the stage" (Seattle Times), Moore has won considerable praise for his interpretation of Steve Jobs with companies in Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City and Utah.
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who “radiantly personified” (Dallas Morning News) Laurene Powell Jobs at the world premiere, reprises the role. A favorite collaborator with many Bay Area institutions, Cooke's memorable stage interpretations for San Francisco Opera have included her 2013 Company debut as the title role of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Anna in Berlioz's Les Troyens, Magdalena in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the title role of Handel's Orlando and Hansel in Humperdink's Hansel and Gretel.
Bass Wei Wu makes his Company debut as Jobs' spiritual advisor Kōbun Chino Otogawa, the role he created in the opera's first performances. Tenor Bille Bruley appears with San Francisco Opera for the first time as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. First-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow soprano Olivia Smith portrays Jobs' girlfriend Chrisann Brennan.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is inspired by the life and creative spirit of Steve Jobs and does not purport to depict actual events as they occurred or statements, beliefs or opinions of the persons depicted. It has not been authorized or endorsed by Apple Inc., the Estate or Family of Steve Jobs or by any persons depicted.
San Francisco Opera's commitment to expanding the operatic repertoire has produced 30 commissions/co-commissions by many leading composers including John Adams, Gabriela Lena Frank, Philip Glass, Jake Heggie, André Previn and Bright Sheng. Bates and Campbell's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is the first of three San Francisco Opera co-commissions to be presented during the Company's 101st season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Omar (Nov 5–21) by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, and the late Kaija Saariaho's Innocence (June 1–21) in its U.S. premiere.
Sung in English with English supertitles, the six performances of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs are scheduled for September 22 (7:30 p.m.), 24 (2 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.), 30 (7:30 p.m.); October 3 (7:30 p.m.), 7 (7:30 p.m.), 2023.
POST-PERFORMANCE CONVERSATION AND AFTER-PARTY
A post-performance conversation with artists from the production and after-party will follow each performance of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs in the Lower Level restaurant of the Opera House. Attendees are encouraged to stay for the talkbacks and enjoy the after-party which features music from the decade beginning in 1980, the year that Apple went public. Drinks, including a specialty cocktail, are available for purchase. The talkbacks and after-parties are free and open to all ticket holders.
LIVESTREAM: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Wednesday, September 27
San Francisco Opera offers livestreams for each of its productions during the 2023–24 season. The Wednesday, September 27 performance of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will be livestreamed at 7:30 p.m. PT. The performance will also be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Thursday, September 28 at 10 a.m. PT. Tickets for the livestream and limited on-demand viewing are $27.50. For tickets and more information about livestreams, visit sfopera.com/digital.
MERCURY SOUL TRANSFORMS THE HISTORIC SAN FRANCISCO MINT
Friday, September 15
The Mint, San Francisco's stunning Greek-Revival structure at 88 5th Street, will be the setting for an evening of DJ sets, captivating pop-up classical performances and immersive visuals. Indulge in cocktails beneath the night sky in the Mint's courtyard, while experiencing a lavish blend of DJ sets by DJ Masonic (Mason Bates) and DJ Justin Reed (illmeasures Chicago) interspersed with works by composers from San Francisco Opera's 101st season, including George Frideric Handel, Mason Bates and Michael Abels. For tickets and more information, visit mercurysoul.com/mint.
*For the complete press release, including cast and calendar listing, open the PDF version above.