Steve Jobs has been the subject of all kinds of art over the years, and now scenes from his life will take place on stage with powerful vocals in a new opera. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs highlights the “complicated and messy” life of Apple’s co-founder and is the product of a collaboration between composer Mason Bates and librettist/Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Campbell.
Linking something as modern as the story of Steve Jobs and Apple to a classic medium like opera may seem like a mismatch. But Bates was convinced that he and Campbell could create a compelling opera that centered on a major theme in Jobs’s life: his need to control everything and create a perfect product, as opposed to the inherently uncontrollable nature of life.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs isn’t an easy story, and it’s not just because of Jobs’ complexity. The stage production is non-linear, recreating 18 scenes that occurred at various times during Jobs’s life and career. It features key characters who made Jobs who he was by the time he died in 2011, including business partner Steve Wozniak, his wife Laurene Powell, and Japanese priest Kobun Chino Otogawa, who helped guide Jobs’ conversion to Buddhism.
It wouldn’t be a work of art based on Steve Jobs without some Apple products, and the opera doesn’t disappoint. During the show, Bates sits among the orchestra musicians and plays sounds from two Mac laptops. According to a report by The Ringer, there are also nostalgic Apple sound effects embedded in Steve Jobs’ soundtrack. Jobs’ leitmotif, or individual melody, is composed of frenetic, folk-esque guitar sounds (Jobs was a guitar enthusiast) mixed with sound effects from old Apple electronics.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs now plays at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico and will later travel to San Francisco and Seattle.