Elektra

Elektra

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I Called It.

This past January, I ran a blog post speculating a bit about future San Francisco Opera productions. Here's part of what I said:

Santa Fe Opera has commissioned an opera by Mason Bates called The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Bates is a popular guy in San Francisco, with SF Symphony commissions and a Beethoven/Bates Festival to his name, not to mention, a Grammy-nominated CD.
If I were the general director of a prominent opera company that is situated at the north end of Silicon Valley, in a city overrun with young (and not so young) nerds who work for companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, and, yes, Apple, and I had an interest in attracting more young, well-off audience members, well, I would be chatting with Santa Fe about doing the second bring-up of an opera about the loved and hated founder of Apple. Note: as announced, it also has a smallish cast, which, in these economic times, is always welcome.
As I noted at the time, I had and have absolutely no inside information about this, but I did call this one. Here's the press release I just got, announcing dates and also the news that SFO has signed on as a co-commissioner along with Santa Fe and Seattle. Co-produced with Indiana U and with support from Cal Performances, too.

I'd previously noted the small cast. One act with a prologue and 19 scenes sounds like the opera tops out at two hours, max, so, less rehearsal times, etc.

That bit about his confidant, Steve Wozniak?? Woz designed the first couple of Apple models and is also an iconic figure. And I spotted him in the audience at the Berlioz Requiem last week.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA TO PRESENT THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS,

AN ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC OPERA BY MASON BATES
WITH A LIBRETTO BY MARK CAMPBELL
SCHEDULED FOR THE 2019–20 SEASON, WAR MEMORIAL OPERA HOUSE

NEW OPERA IS A CO-COMMISSION WITH SANTA FE OPERA AND SEATTLE OPERA,
WITH SUPPORT FROM CAL PERFORMANCES AND CO-PRODUCED WITH
INDIANA UNIVERSITY’S JACOBS SCHOOL OF MUSIC

SANTA FE OPERA TO GIVE THE WORLD PREMIERE JULY 22 – AUGUST 25, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (May 9, 2017) – San Francisco Opera today announced its participation as a co-commissioner of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs—the first full-length opera written by Bay Area composer Mason Bates and set to a libretto by Mark Campbell—joining Santa Fe Opera and Seattle Opera, with support from Cal Performances. The new work is a co-production with Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and will have its world premiere beginning July 22, 2017 at Santa Fe Opera. San Francisco Opera will present the Bay Area premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs during the Company’s 2019–20 repertory season at the War Memorial Opera House. Bates’ electro-acoustic opera is composed in one act and is comprised of a prologue and 19 scenes.

The creative team is led by director Kevin Newbury, who previously staged the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (2013) and a new production of Norma (2014) for San Francisco Opera. In their Company debuts, the designers include scenic artist Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, costumes by Paul Carey, lighting by Japhy Weideman, projection design by London-based 59 Productions and choreography by Chloe Treat. Casting and conductor for San Francisco Opera’s presentation will be announced at a later date.

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock said: “This is a profoundly moving new opera that I am excited to bring to Northern California audiences. Steve Jobs was an iconic figure in contemporary life whose genius has impacted the very way in which we engage with the world. But he was also a real person and a member of our immediate community. Mason’s new opera is a deeply layered, moving portrayal of a man grappling with the complex priorities of life, family and work. Like all great operas, I have been so impressed by how it speaks to the universality of the human condition. This is not just an opera about one man. It is an opera about all of us.”

Composer Mason Bates added, “Jobs’ search for inner peace is the story of the opera, which is about a man who learns to be human again.” Together, Bates and Mark Campbell have fashioned an opera that traces the development of Jobs’ spirituality through his relationships with five major figures in his life: his wife Laurene, his confidant Steve Wozniak, his girlfriend Chrisann, his spiritual advisor Kobun and his father Paul. The past informs the present along this deeply emotional journey, during which Steve Jobs never leaves the stage. Bates has established distinct musical idioms for each character and notes that “as they interact, their music will blend almost like on a DJ rig.”

According to scenic designer Victoria Tzykun: “The products and experiences that Steve Jobs dreamed up with his teams defied expectations and provided a sense of wonder. That sense of wonder is what is very important for us to capture in this production. In order to provide that for modern audiences, we are harnessing cutting-edge technology and fusing it with traditional stagecraft in a way that will create a world that has never yet been seen on an operatic stage: a visually minimal physical environment that can morph in an endless variety of ways through physical movement, video and light. The scenic units will glow from within and be projected on as they move about the stage, seamlessly blending the different mediums.”

Since its inception in 1923, San Francisco Opera has embodied a spirit of innovation. From the building of the iconic War Memorial Opera House in 1932 to the creation of the Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellowships, San Francisco Opera continues to be an industry leader in the opera world. The Company has also had a long history of presenting world and United States premieres including a new work by John Adams, Girls of the Golden West, scheduled to open November 21, 2017.

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