Wednesday 7 December 2016

Steve Jobs, the opera: Tech pioneer's life story to be told in song

Published 05/08/2015 | 20:17

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (AP/File)
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (AP/File)

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is to be the subject of an opera.

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Since his death from cancer aged 56 in 2011 he has been the subject of documentaries, books, a film and even a graphic novel.

The Santa Fe Opera announced on Wednesday that its latest commission will be based on the man who helped revolutionise personal computers, the music business and, of course, brought the world the iPhone.

The Revolution of Steve Jobs will premiere during the company's 2017 season and will be written by composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell, opera leadership said.

According to the opera, the production will examine Jobs facing his own mortality and circles back to the events and people in his past that shaped and inspired him.

The move comes as New Mexico in recent years has worked to honour it connections to technology innovators like Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. For example, a Route 66 motor lodge in Albuquerque where Bill Gates and Paul Allen lived while launching Microsoft is being redeveloped into apartments as part of a district revival project.

While Gates worked on his project, Jobs operated from in his garage in Los Altos, California, and with partner Steve Wozniak released the compact Apple II at the time Albuquerque was a technology hub.

He was fired from Apple in 1985 in a board coup but came back 11 years later. On his second stint he introduced the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone.

That journey is the perfect story for an opera, General Director Charles MacKay said. "We are delighted to take this journey into the life and legacy of a distinctly American figure through the creative genius of Mason Bates and Mark Campbell."

Mr Bates said the story of Jobs is a great intersection of creativity, innovation and human communication. His relationship with those who helped him along that journey also will help tell the story in the opera, Bates said.

"Each character will have (his or her) own music," Mr Bates said. "When they collide, that's when it gets interesting."

This will be the first opera produced by Mr Bates, who has gained national attention during the past decade by fusing traditional symphonic resources with electronic sounds. Armed with a laptop computer, he often performs in the presentation of his compositions.

Mr Campbell has written 15 librettos since the mid-1990s, including the opera Silent Night.

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