Back in 2013, while reviewing one of the ill-fated movies made at the time about the life of Steve Jobs, I suggested that Job’s life lent itself better to a classical 5-act play structure, or even Opera. A 2-hour pop movie about Jobs was simply the wrong format.
Well, someone clearly agreed with me, as the Santa Fe Opera Company has debuted a new Steve Jobs opera with music by Mason Bates and Libretto by Mark Campbell.
Throughout the course of 19 scenes, beginning with the launch of iPhone in 2007, the opera navigates the transformative experiences of Jobs' life, from his days at Reed College to his time with spiritual advisor Kobun Chino Otogawa to the launch of the Apple I.
As can be expected, personal relationships appear to feature prominently in the production. Scene synopses and a cast list show interactions with Steve "Woz" Wozniak, former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, wife Laurene Powell Jobs and father Paul Jobs. In true opera fashion, Otogawa's ghost makes multiple appearances.
The story itself weaves back and forth between decades, a technique reminiscent of flashbacks in movie making.
"The libretto for 'Steve Jobs' has a very non-linear narrative," Campbell said. "We create a story where he is confronting his own mortality and decides to look at a few places in his past."
I wish I could make the trip to Santa Fe. Hopefully a production will be done in New York at some point. I’d love to see this, just out of curiosity. At least one reviewer hasn’t been super supportive thus far, but I’d still like to judge it for myself.
The approach sounds very different from the 5-act structure I outlined in my original post about Jobs’ life. The non-linear story sounds very intriguing. At the very least, it delves into what sounds like a much more personal exploration of Jobs than anything we’ve seen so far, which would be nice. Certainly better than any of the pop movies that have attempted to tackle this material.
I still believe, many years from now, when there’s more first-hand source material from friends and family, HBO will make an awesome miniseries about Jobs. Heck, if I was right about the opera…