“The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” at the Santa Fe Opera

So much for predictions. I went to the dress rehearsal for the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at the Santa Fe Opera prepared to hate it for a number of reasons. I’m not a fan of contemporary music or contemporary operas, I didn’t particularly like Steve Jobs and I don’t like high-tech projections. I am, basically, a Luddite; I still have a flip phone. To my surprise, I fell in love with The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

The Music

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs - Mark Campbell (left) Daisy Geoffrey, Santa Fe Opera's Communicstions Director and Mason Bates talk to our group, photo Steve Collins

Mark Campbell (left) Daisy Geoffrey, Santa Fe Opera’s Communicstions Director and Mason Bates talk to our group, photo Steve Collins

The music, a mix of orchestral and technological, worked well. Mark Campbell’s libretto for the 90-minute, one-act opera is witty, poignant and fast paced. Composer Mason Bates, who spoke to our press group (made up mostly of Instagrammers) before the rehearsal, said that he would be in the pit each performance with his drum pad and two Mac laptops. Campbell, who also spoke to the group, is both introspective and very funny. It was after hearing these two speak that I began to think I might like the (R)evolution of Steve Jobs better than I expected. We also heard from set designer Vita Tzykun and lighting designer Japhy Weideman. The sets, which range from stark and utilitarian to wildly colorful along with the technological projections greatly enhanced the opera.

The timeline of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs - Woz and Jobs in the Los Altos, California garage they invented the Apple computer, photo Steve Collins

Woz and Jobs in the Los Altos, California garage they invented the Apple computer, photo/Steve Collins

The opera opens in 2007, the day Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld Convention. The timeline moves back and forth between significant events in Job’ ‘life. It’s a bit like Scrooge’s journey into the past in A Christmas Carol but because Jobs has terminal cancer, there’s no journey into the future. One of the scenes is of a 1974 acid trip Jobs took in a apricot orchard (we may be lucky we’re not computing on Apricots). While tripping on the LSD he heard the world as Bach music.

Throughout the opera, the on stage presence of Kobun Chino Otogawa, Buddhist monk and Job’s friend for over two decades, on the stage reminds the viewer of Jobs’ commitment to Buddhism and his inevitable humanity. According to Bates (on his website), “Jobs’ search for inner peace is the story of the opera – which, in a sentence, is about a man who learns to be human again.” Bates, and the opera, credit Jobs’ wife Laurene with grounding the frenetic visionary reminding him “of the importance of the human connection.” Jobs was not a compassionate or likeable man until he faced his imminent mortality but none of us can deny the impact his genius and tenacity has had on the world.

The people behind The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs - Buddhism was central to Jobs' life, photo Steve Collins

Buddhism was central to Jobs’ life, photo/teve Collins

The stellar cast (they got a standing ovation from the audience) was headed by Edward Parks, dressed in a black turtleneck, in the title role (he didn’t leave the stage once during the entire 90 minutes), Sasha Cooke as Laurene Powell Jobs, Wei Wu as Kobun Chino Otogawa, Garrett Sorenson as Woz, Jessica Jones as Chrisann Brennan and Kelly Markgraf as Paul Jobs. The production was ably directed by Kevin Newberry.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs - Jobs and Laurene in 2007 photo Steve Collins

Jobs and Laurene in 2007 photo/Steve Collins

The evening flew, bringing a lot of laughter from the audience and at least for me, tears. Get your tickets now, the opera, commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, is sure to be a sell-out once word gets out.

You don’t have to be an opera fan to enjoy this one. It speaks eloquently  to the humanity in zll of us. That’s the true revolution of Steve Jobs.

Author’s note: We were invited to the dress rehearsal for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs to attend an Instameet arranged by Santa Fe’s Simply Social Media. This is the third season of the Santa Fe Opera Instameets and we’ve attended from the beginning. The group assembled for the world premier of he (R)evolution of Steve Jobs was the largest since the beginning. Getting to hear the people behind the opera speak is an amazing opportunity. The impact of this many “influencers” Tweeting at the same time results on trending hashtags trending on Twitter.

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