Santa Fe Opera to premiere Bates/Campbell The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell collaborate on an original opera based on the life of one of the greatest innovators of our time in a new production


SANTA FE, NM – General Director Charles MacKay announced today Santa Fe Opera’s next commission, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which will have its world premiere in 2017 as a part of the company’s 61st season. The opera will be composed by Mason Bates, one of America’s most acclaimed and popular composers, with an original libretto by Mark Campbell, who was the librettist for the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night. This will be Bates’ first produced opera. Stage Director Kevin Newbury, who brought both Theodore Morrison’s Oscar (2013) and Lewis Spratlan’s Life is a Dream (2010) to the stage in Santa Fe, will be joined by Michael Christie, Music Director for Minnesota Opera, who makes his company debut leading the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

“Riding on the heels of Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer’s Cold Mountain, which received both audience and critical acclaim at its world premiere on Saturday, it is a thrill to announce Santa Fe Opera’s next major commission, “ said General Director Charles MacKay. “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will mark the Company’s 15th world premiere, continuing the tradition of producing work that pushes the boundaries of the art form. 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.”


The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is a new opera that examines the life of one of the most fascinating figures of our time; an innovator who simplified communication with sleek devices, but who paradoxically learned that complex human relationships require more than one button to work. The opera starts at a moment in Jobs’ life when he must face his own mortality and circles back to the events and people in his past that shaped and inspired him: his father Paul, Zen Buddhism, his relationship with a woman whose child he initially disowned, his quick rise and fall as mogul, and – most importantly – his wife Laurene, who showed him the power of love and connection. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs seeks to capture the buzzing creative realm of Silicon Valley with a kinetic electro-acoustic score, lush vocal writing, a compelling non-linear narrative, and a production as innovative as the man himself.

“Santa Fe Opera’s impact on the creation and dissemination of new opera is simply astonishing, and I’ve been so thankful to visit several times over the past ten years,” said composer Mason Bates. “The superb productions of works new and old, combined with the stunning setting, have made it an essential pilgrimage for me. I’m honored to bring the story of Steve Jobs to this wonderful house and look forward to many more visits in the course of its creation.”

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is librettist Mark Campbell’s first collaboration with composer Mason Bates: “Mason’s brilliance at infusing the orchestra with electronica makes him uniquely poised to create a score for this opera that will evoke the innovative and mercurial nature of its subject,” said Campbell. “Audiences at Santa Fe Opera will be treated to a new kind of energy coming from the stage and the pit.” This production also signifies Campbell’s tertiary collaborations with both director Kevin Newbury and conductor Michael Christie, who with composer Kevin Puts, most recently collaborated on The Manchurian Candidate for Minnesota Opera.

This commission will receive its first workshop in San Francisco (September 2015) in collaboration with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, and with additional support from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Workshops play a key role in the commissioning process of Santa Fe Opera, illuminating what works well dramatically and musically, and allowing both composer and librettist to test their ideas before the work reaches the stage.