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The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

July 22 - August 25, 2017

The Universe Within…

Many of us wanted to change the world. Steve Jobs did. A masterful marketer who decried materialism, Jobs led a binary life—magnetic and unapproachable, empathetic and cruel, meditative and restless. He helped connect us all while building a firewall around his own emotions. Jobs’ late-life search for his inner truth is at the heart of this world premiere. Composer Mason Bates’ music blends expressive electronics, including guitar, with rich opera orchestration. Brilliant yet unknowable, Steve Jobs possessed a vision that seemed limitless. But only as his own life was ending did he find the means to look within himself.

Music By
Mason Bates
Libretto By
Mark Campbell

Synopsis

  • Synopsis

    Prologue. 1965: The Jobs family garage, Los Altos. Paul Jobs presents his son Steve with a workbench as a birthday present.

    2007: Convention center, San Francisco. Steve Jobs delivers a public launch of his company’s new product — “one device” that will revolutionize technology. At the end, he stops, noticeably weak and short of breath.

    2007, directly after: Corporate offices, Cupertino. Steve retreats to his office. His wife Laurene chides him for not taking better care of himself and asks him to come home and reconnect with their family.

    2007, later that afternoon: The hills around Cupertino. Steve goes on a long meditative walk. Kōbun Chino Otogawa, Steve’s former spiritual mentor in Sōtō Zen Buddhism, joins him. As they gaze at the sunset, Kōbun prompts Steve to acknowledge his mortality.

    1973: Reed College, Oregon.  A teacher discusses the significance of the ensō, a circle drawn in Japanese calligraphy. Steve is inspired by aesthetic ideas of elegance and simplicity.

    1973: The Jobs family garage. Steve’s best friend Steve Wozniak has created a “blue box,” a device that allows the user to make free calls. Steve and “Woz” celebrate the ease with which corporate giants can be toppled.

    1974: An apple orchard near Los Altos. Steve and his girlfriend Chrisann lie together after taking LSD. Steve imagines their surroundings coming to life as an orchestra, playing Bach. The two start to make love when Kōbun interrupts them.

    2007: The hills around Cupertino; 1975: Los Altos Zen Center. Kōbun informs Steve that he cannot live at the Zen Center and hints that his destiny may lie elsewhere.

    1989: Lecture hall, Stanford University. Steve meets Laurene for the first time.

    1976: Jobs family garage. Woz presents a new computer interface to Steve. They begin to celebrate when Chrisann arrives and tells Steve that she is pregnant. When Steve demands that Chrisann end the pregnancy, she leaves in tears. Steve and Woz dream about the future of their invention. Steve remembers the orchestra in the orchard playing Bach.

    1989: Steve Jobs’ home, Palo Alto. Steve shows Laurene his sparsely furnished home. Photographs by Ansel Adams in Steve’s home prompt a brief discussion about artistic inspiration. Laurene and Steve go to bed for the first time.

    1980: Corporate offices, Cupertino. Steve severs ties with Chrisann and angers Woz by denying a fellow employee his pension. Chrisann and Woz lament the loss of the Steve they once knew.

    1981–1986: Corporate offices, Cupertino. Steve denies palimony to Chrisann for their child, Lisa, and offends Woz, who quits. Demoted by the board of directors, Steve bitterly leaves the company.

    2007: The hills around Cupertino. Kōbun reminds Steve that it was necessary for him to learn from his mistakes. He shows Steve a brief replay of his life after he fell apart, revisiting his first meeting with Laurene and the evening when he fell in love with her.

    2007, later that night: Steve Jobs’ home. Steve returns home after his walk to find Laurene waiting for him. She confronts Steve and gets him to accept his illness and mortality. Kōbun reminds Steve of his wedding day.

    1991: Yosemite National Park. Kōbun marries Steve and Laurene in a Buddhist ceremony. Steve expresses his love for Laurene and his gratitude to her for teaching him the value of human connection. Kōbun’s 1992 death is revealed, prompting a meditation on mortality that segues into the next scene.

    2011: Stanford University Chapel. Kōbun explains that Steve is witnessing his own memorial service. Steve protests a few production elements of the service, but Kōbun tells him to be still, to simplify. Laurene and Woz muse about Steve. Finally, Laurene is left alone and observes that while Steve will be both lionized and demonized, no one can deny his influence on the world.

    Epilogue. 1965: Jobs family garage. As Laurene looks on, Paul Jobs presents his son with a workbench on his birthday as “a fine place to start.”

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