The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is an opera with music by American composer Mason Bates and an English-language libretto by Mark Campbell. It was commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, with support from Cal Performances. The opera is about one of the most influential people in recent history; it is set at a time when he must confront his own mortality and circle back on the events that shaped his personal and professional life.
The world premiere took place at the Santa Fe Opera in 2017, conducted by Michael Christie. The original production featured direction by Kevin Newbury, scenic design by Vita Tzykun, costume design by Paul Carey, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, projection design by Ben Pearcy for 59 Productions, and sound design by Rick Jacobsohn and Brian Loach; it was a co-production of Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs was the most popular new opera in Santa Fe Opera's history and one of the top-selling operas in the company's history. An extra performance had to be added to accommodate the demand for tickets. In May 2018, a recording of the work was issued under the Pentatone label; Bates and Campbell received Grammy Award nominations for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, engineers Mark Donahue and Dirk Sobotka were nominated for Best Engineered Album (Classical), and Elizabeth Ostrow was nominated for Producer of the Year (Classical). The recording won the 2019 Grammy for Best Opera Recording (honoring conductor Michael Christie, producer Elizabeth Ostrow, and principal soloists Sasha Cooke, Jessica E. Jones, Edward Parks, Garrett Sorenson, and Wei Wu).
Bates was drawn to Steve Jobs as the subject for an opera, because, he says, opera “can illuminate the interior thoughts of different characters simultaneously through the juxtaposition of individual themes. That makes it an ideal medium to explore a man who revolutionized how we communicate.” Bates asked Mark Campbell, one of America's leading opera librettists, to create the story in the libretto. According to Campbell, “Learning that Jobs was a Buddhist his entire adult life lead me to the ensō, the circle that is drawn in Japanese calligraphy to express enlightenment. I connected that with Jobs’ habit of taking long walks and the Zen practice of pacing in a circular pattern called a kinhin and began to develop a story in which Steve ‘circles back’ on his life. The title actually refers less to the revolution Jobs helped create in technology rather than the kinhin of self-reflection that propels the story.”  Gary Rydstrom of Skywalker Sound assisted Bates with the production of the opera’s electronic sounds.
There have been two other presentations of the original Santa Fe production, with a third planned in 2020 and a fourth in 2021.
- Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music presented four performances of the opera in 2018 in their Musical Arts Center. Michael Christie conducted a student cast.
- Seattle Opera presented the opera in McCaw Hall, with seven performances in February and March 2019. Garrett Sorenson reprised the role of "Woz", and Nicole Paiement conducting in her Seattle Opera debut.
- San Francisco Opera will present the opera in War Memorial Opera House for a run of seven performances in June and July 2020. Edward Parks, Sasha Cooke, Garrett Sorenson, and Wei Wu are scheduled to reprise their roles from the Santa Fe run, with Michael Christie returning as conductor.
- The Lyric Opera of Kansas City will present four performances in February and March 2021 in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 22 July 2017|
(Conductor: Michael Christie)
|Steve Jobs||baritone||Edward Parks|
|Laurene Powell||mezzo-soprano||Sasha Cooke|
|"Woz" (Steve Wozniak)||tenor||Garrett Sorenson|
|Kōbun Chino Otogawa||bass||Wei Wu|
|Chrisann Brennan||soprano||Jessica E. Jones|
|Paul Jobs||baritone||Kelly Markgraf|
This one-act opera features roles based on real-life figures Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Chrisann Brennan, Kōbun Chino Otogawa, and Laurene Powell. Inspired by the life and creative spirit of Steve Jobs, the opera does not purport to depict actual events as they occurred or statements, beliefs, or opinions of the persons depicted.
- Parks, Cooke, Wu, Sorenson; Christie, 2017 (Pentatone (record label)) - Grammy Award Winner, Best Opera Recording
- Bates, Mason, "The Music of Communication" in Santa Fe Opera 2017 program book, pp. 76–78
- Campbell, Mark, "The Evolution of (R)evolution" in Santa Fe Opera 2017 program book, pp. 79–81
- "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs". Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
- "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs". Seattle Opera. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
- "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs". San Francisco Opera. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
- Musical highlights, Seattle Opera, soundcloud.com