Way back in September 2015, a single sentence in an issue of Juiced.GS indicated that the Santa Fe Opera had commissioned The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, an opera set to debut in 2017.
We all promptly forgot about that production — until today, when we came across a recording of a scene from that opera. Here is a four-minute clip of Jeremy Weiss as Steve Jobs performing “One Device”, which recounts Jobs’ unveiling of the iPhone on January 9, 2007.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs‘s one act was divided across twenty scenes and many years in a non-linear format, ranging from 1965 to 2011. “Facing his own mortality, the tech icon Steve Jobs looks back at the triumphs and trials, breakthroughs and breakdowns, that shaped his life as a husband, father and industry leader,” reads the original synopsis. “Known as a devout Buddhist with a violent temper, a master of communication who could barely keep a personal connection and an adoptee who refused to acknowledge his own daughter, Jobs captured the imagination of the world when he changed the future of communication forever,” reads another.
The opera’s debut consisted of six performances September 22–October 7, 2017, at the San Francisco Opera, whose website features three audio excerpts from the show: the above “One Device”; an instrumental interlude; and “Laurene’s Aria”, sung by Sasha Cooke as Laurene Powell Jobs. The full album consists of two CDs, 26 tracks, and 1 hour 33 minutes of music, available from such vendors as Apple Music. All songs were composed Mason Bates with librettist Mark Campbell.
New York Times theater critic Zachary Woolfe praised some members of the original cast but was far more critical of the script, composition, and casting of Edward Parks as Jobs:
There’s nothing graceful or seductive about the opera’s blustery, earnest Jobs… You can’t imagine this guy ever making anyone do anything… The 90-minute opera’s fiction, which rings false, is that Jobs started and ended a different person than he was in the middle… The opera is fatally caught between its desires to diligently check off biographical boxes and to shape [Jobs’] biography, contrary to fact, into the happy-ending shape of a meet-cute romance.“Review: Steve Jobs of Apple, Tech Visionary, Has Glitches as an Opera“
The above YouTube clip is from the September 2018 performance of the opera by Indiana University Opera, which had the same director, composer, and set designer as the San Francisco debut. Other numbers from Weiss’s YouTube channel include “Wrong, All Wrong”, in which, among other things, Jobs denies his paternity of Chrisann Brennan’s daughter, Lisa:
and “Something We Play”, a scene that opens with Steve Wozniak when Jobs realizes the potential of the personal computer: