Monday, March 11, 2019

The voice of Seattle Opera's podcast: Jonathan Dean

Genevieve Hathaway photo
Meet the voice behind Seattle Opera's new podcast—the company's Dramaturg, Jonathan Dean! Dean, a charismatic, multilingual opera fanatic, wears a lot of hats around the office. (For example, he often creates the English supertitles you see projected over the stage for each performance). In fall 2018, he led the relaunch of Seattle Opera's new and exciting podcast. As the host, Jon Dean makes learning about opera fun and engaging, even if this historic art form isn't really "your thing." Episodes feature a variety of fun Opera 101 content, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews for each production. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, or on

 By Philippa Kiraly
What is a dramaturg? The word comes from the Greek: drama + ourgos=work, and its meaning for Seattle Opera covers everything Jonathan Dean has worked on since his hiring in 1995, when he got his start in the Education department undertaking a variety of assignments, then was named director of Public Programs and Media in 2010 and in 2015, Dramaturg.

“It’s a central position in which I perform a lot of tasks which have accumulated over all these years,” he says, his latest energies being directed towards podcasts about upcoming opera productions, discussions about various voice types with illustrations, discussions with performing artists, and discussions about the inner meanings behind such ambiguous operas as Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

TeenTix Editors weigh in on Steve Jobs

The TeenTix Editorial Staff includes Huma Ali, Hannah Schoettmer, Joshua Fernandes, and Lily Williamson.
Seattle Opera was honored that the TeenTix Editorial Staff chose to attend the opening night of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. The editorial staff is made up of five teens who edit and curate the content for the review section of the TeenTix blog, and lead a newsroom of young-adult writers. "As teens, we feel that art is often made inaccessible for our demographic. We are working to fix that by giving teens a voice in the adult-dominated world of arts criticism." 

What did you think of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs?
Joshua: I thought it was the most entertaining opera I’ve ever seen since becoming a conscious 17-year-old who actually knows what he’s looking at when it comes to opera. I view this performance through the lens of someone who is more familiar with musicals. With that said, the set design—made up of a series of moving boxes that changed configuration—was excellent. I loved the contrast between the contemporary subject matter, and the historic tradition of this art form. You take a little bit of old with the new—that to me seems to be the very concept of a Steve Jobs opera.

Lily: This is a gateway opera: It’s accessible, quite short comparatively at 90 minutes, and it’s fast-moving. I agree; this opera was reminiscent of a musical. It felt like everything was whizzing around. The story deals with contemporary issues; it feels timely and relevant for 2019.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Praise for The (R)evolution

Seattle Opera presents The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Jacob Lucas photo
’s sonic and visual surface—what Jobs might call a user interface—is expertly and thrillingly presented." - Seattle Weekly

"John Moore, the baritone who portrays Jobs, deserves special mention. Moore is present in nearly every scene and is terrific throughout, expansively encompassing Jobs’s complex personality, hopes, desires, and fears. Also strong are Adam Lau as spiritual advisor Kobun, and Garrett Sorenson as Woz ... Emily Fons masterfully balances Jobs’s intensity as his wife Laurene. Chrisann, Jobs’s girlfriend in his youth, is performed sympathetically by Madison Leonard." - Seen and Heard International

"I love it when big institutions take real artistic risks. Even better when they pay off. Case in point: (R)evolution of Steve Jobs @SeattleOpera. I might have to go back and watch it again." - @gemmadeetweet, Twitter

"But it isn’t just Bates’ music which makes this opera so compelling, it’s the shape of the libretto fashioned by Mark Campbell (people may remember him as the librettist of As One, the chamber opera coming-of-age story about a transgender woman mounted by Seattle Opera in 2016)." - The Sybaritic Singer

"You shouldn’t expect to glean startup tips from “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” the one-act opera staged by the Seattle Opera this week and next ...  But you can expect to see and hear the tangled tale of Apple’s enigmatic co-founder, told on a literally operatic scale." - GeekWire

"Opening night was INCREDIBLE! I laughed, I cried, I had fun, I felt pain and sadness... True art!." – Nicole S., Facebook 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tech has changed Seattle. Now what?

Seattle Opera's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Jacob Lucas photo

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is spurring important conversations. This Saturday, March 2, join Seattle Opera for a panel discussion at the intersection of technology, the arts, and the future of Seattle. For better or worse, the technology industry has forever changed Puget Sound. As industry and the population expand, how can all of us—from Seattle's longtime residents to its newcomers—help secure the legacy of arts, culture, and civic engagement in our community? Seattle Opera and KUOW's Prime(d) podcast are joining forces on a special event in conjunction with (R)evolution, which illuminates one man’s evolution from a countercultural outsider to a corporate culture icon.

This panel is free, open to the public, and will last about 60 minutes. It takes the place of our usual pre-show talk. Attendees are welcome to purchase a ticket to attend the performance of the opera, which begins at 7:30 p.m. 

After the opera, this conversation will continue for audience members with moderators Carolyn Adolph, Joshua McNichols, panelist Cynthia Brothers of Vanishing Seattle, and Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Advance press for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

John Moore (Steve Jobs). Philip Newton photo

The Seattle Times

"It comes bringing much buzz, fresh off a Grammy Award for best opera recording, and a 2017 run at Santa Fe Opera that met with standing ovations and high ticket demand. Perhaps more importantly, in terms of drawing people who’ve never attended an opera performance, it has name familiarity. Usually, in opera, that means the composer: Mozart, Puccini, Verdi. In this case, though, it’s the title subject, a man whose name reverberates not just in tech towns like Seattle and San Francisco. 'Everybody is carrying a little bit of Steve Jobs in their pocket,' said Composer Mason Bates..."


"Still, creating a work of art for a form where longevity is measured in centuries, not smartphone upgrade cycles, did require librettist Mark Campbell to think hard about what to leave out.' We decided really early on not to mention any products by name,' he said. 'We talk about the iPhone in the first song — the first big number is a product launch — but we don’t say "the iPhone." We don’t talk about the Apple One computer or anything like that. That would kind of date the language.' Even Apple’s corporate nemesis gets the silent treatment. Microsoft is only referred to as 'Seattle' or 'the big M.'"

The Stranger 

"Even people who, like me, hate anything that makes capitalism appear to be anything but ugly can't avoid the fact that Jobs had about him the air of an exceptional person. There have been books and films made about him, but I believe that the proper medium for this type of life is opera. It will be interesting to see what The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs looks and sounds like in Seattle Opera's production ... With music by Mason Bates and a libretto by Mark Campbell, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs understands that no other medium than opera is appropriate to the life and times of a man many considered to be the last hero of capitalism."

John Moore (Steve Jobs) with Emily Fons (Laurene Powell Jobs). Philip Newton photo

Seattle Weekly 

"Scenes from the life of the tech visionary (his mentor, his colleague Steve Wozniak, his romances) are recounted in flashbacks in Mason Bates’ Grammy-winning opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs—both a showcase for electronic musical and visual affects and a warmly intimate portrait of a troubled genius."


"When you hear the name Steve Jobs, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Apple founder. Tech genius. Opera fodder? That last one seems less likely. But the reviews are in and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is a hit. It just won the Grammy for Best Opera Recording (by the Santa Fe Opera) and is about to make its West Coast debut at Seattle Opera."


"Final rehearsals are underway at Seattle’s McCaw Hall for a new show debuting this weekend for Seattle Opera. It's a revolutionary take on an art form that is steeped in tradition, but they hope it could catch the attention of a new audience. Seattle Opera's repertoire is known for an impressive selection of shows, but this week it's their final rehearsals on a new show. It’s a production that’s only been seen in a few cities, and it's quite unique.'It's going to be different than anything you've seen on stage before,' performer Sarah Mattox explained. The stage is filled with video screens, and the star wears jeans and a black mock turtleneck for the whole show."

Jacob Lucas photo

Gemma Alexander 

Seattle Opera has been fighting against opera’s reputation as a mummified art form for a long time with its progressive chamber operas and in the audience education programs around the regular season productions. With Steve Jobs, they are elevating the themes of contemporary opera to the main season stage, replacing misbehaving royals with a tech tycoon. Could anything be more relevant to 21st century Seattle than a story that examines the impact of technology on our community and even our minds?

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs plays Feb. 23-March 9, 2019 at McCaw Hall. Learn more about this opera on our Spotlight Guide.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The (R)evolutionary design of Vita Tzykun

Meet Victoria “Vita” Tzykun (pronounced tsee-‘koon), Set Designer for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Born in Ukraine, raised in Israel, and now based in New York City, Tzykun has designed sets, costumes, and projections for companies such as The Bolshoi Theater (Russia), Norwegian Opera, Santa Fe Opera, LA Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Wolf Trap Opera, and many other companies and festivals. She made her Seattle Opera debut in 2015 as Costume Designer for Seattle Opera's Semele. Numerous film and TV credits include art direction for Lady Gaga’s ABC Thanksgiving Special, plus production design for several award-winning films and commercials. Tzykun is a founding member of GLMMR - an NYC-based interdisciplinary art collective that fuses the worlds of fine art, audiovisual technology, and live performance. Tzykun holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was awarded a full scholarship, and a BFA (Magna Cum Laude) from Tel-Aviv University.

In your work, you wear many hats, from designing costumes (like your work in Semele) to creating sets for Steve Jobs. Often you occupy the title of "Production Designer." Can you explain what a production designer does? 
A production designer conceives the look and feel of the experience that an audience member interfaces with, be it an opera, a TV show, a rock concert, or a virtual reality event.

You've described The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs as the most technologically advanced opera you've ever designed. What new challenges did you find as an artist, and were some of the most joyous moments for you in creating the world of Steve Jobs?
One of the most challenging aspects of conceiving a visual environment for this production was identifying what might be technologically exciting for audience members to see four years down the line. (We started designing this opera in 2016 and it’s going to San Francisco Opera in 2020). After all, it’s an opera about Steve Jobs, arguably one of the most important visionaries and tech giants in the world. Two dimensional painted flats wouldn’t do here. It was clear from the beginning that the visual world of this opera had to deliver a sense of technological wonder.

One of the most joyous moments in this process was when one of our collaborators, Ben Pearcy of “59 Productions” brought up the idea of using BlackTrax, a technology that allows for real-time tracking of the sets. That’s exactly the kind of solution I was looking for, and it allows for video projections to stay “glued” to the set units at all times.

Set design by Vita Tzykun. Ken Howard photo
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about opera in your view?
In the US, I feel like opera is often treated like a museum relic that is precious and not to be modified. New takes on classical repertoire, and new operas, are too frequently viewed with suspicion.

While classic repertoire is very important, the art form must evolve in order to survive. And it is indeed evolving. We are currently in a midst of a contemporary opera renaissance in America. I have been fortunate to work as production designer for many operatic world-premieres over the past eight years, and these pieces are relevant, gripping, and versatile. The subjects of these operas speak to modern audiences—including audiences new to opera—and they're presented in ways that people can easily understand and relate to.

In many ways, opera is no different than theater and dance, both of which are miles ahead of opera in terms of modernizing older performance practices. Think about the vast amount of modern dance and modern theater that has been created throughout the 20th, and the beginning of the 21st centuries. Opera has a lot of catching up to do, but it’s on it’s way, and it's exciting to watch.

In Seattle, many people are huge fans of Semele (including the amazing Pasithea and Somnus costumes that you created!). What was the most fun part about working on that show?

Oh, that’s great to hear! I love that production and am very proud of it, particularly the collaboration between several Seattle Opera departments. In order to create Somnus' 15-foot-long cape that was covered with glowing constellations, we worked with the lighting department. And and to create Pasithea’s corseted Venus-like shell, we needed the props department. The folks who work in lighting and props rarely visit the costume shop, but that time around, we had to work closely, and the results turned out to be magic!

What was your overall strategy for creating a sense of wonder in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs?
The strategy was to create a scenic world that would shift physically and digitally at the exact same time, while being sound-reactive. In close collaboration with video and lighting designers, Ben Pearcy and Japhy Weideman, we have achieved just that.

What was it like working with Lady Gaga outside of the opera world?
Everything moves much faster in the Pop/Rock music and TV worlds, but I’ve production-designed for film quite a bit before shifting my main focus to designing for opera over the past few years, so I was prepared for that.

Lady Gaga is a very hard-working, professional, and collaborative artist, and her work ethics and methods were inspiring to watch. She was very involved in the design process, spearheading the visual concepts for her shows.

Vita Tzykun provided Art Direction for Lady Gaga's ABC Thanksgiving Special. 
In (R)evolution, you worked with lighting professionals to line the stage with ribbons of programmable “neon flex” lights that change colors, animate, and pulsate according to the beat of the music. This effect is used to reflect Jobs’ inner thoughts at his most creative moments. Can you describe a moment or two in the show where you feel like the lighting, the storytelling, etc. just comes together in an amazing way?
One of our main objectives was to blend the boundaries between scenery, lighting, and video. Often times, when the scenery moves from side-to-side, but the video projected on it moves from front to back, the audience can’t quite grasp how exactly items are moving. In this show, it’s hard to tell what is video and what is lighting. And when both lighting and video pulsate to the beat of the electronic track, it further promotes that sense of oneness. One example is the end of Steve’s Product Launch, his first big aria in the opera when he unveils the first iPhone. At the end of it, you can hear an electronic sound that reminds us of powering down, Steve doubles over, exhausted, scenic monoliths on stage start changing their configuration, as lighting and video pulsate like his heart beat. If in the beginning he controls the “matrix” on stage, then towards the end, it’s evident that the “matrix” controls him.

The visuals you created for this show help the audience get inside Steve’s head. Based on what you’ve learned through working on this opera, what do people not know about Steve Jobs?

Many might not know that Steve Jobs was a practicing Buddhist and that for most of his life he had a spiritual teacher, Kōbun Chino Otogawa. The juxtaposition of a practicing Buddhist becoming one of the wealthiest people on the planet and inventing a device that everyone craves and are addicted to is quite something. But that’s one of the most interesting aspects of Steve Jobsjust how full of contradictions he was. 

Set design for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Vita Tzykun. 

Why is The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs an important work in the operatic canon? 
Because it touches on subjects that are relevant to audiences today, and to audiences many years down the line. The opera fuses acoustic and electronic elements beautifully. New and traditional collide to create a unique soundscape that is still quite unusual in large-scale opera.

You were born in Ukraine, but raised in Israel and lived there during the first Gulf War. What was your experience with the arts growing up?

The arts are a common denominator. In the USSR, Israel, the US, Europe, Asia everywhere I've lived, no matter the language, people can share the language of visual art and music. The arts connect us to each other.  

During the Gulf War, while we were sitting in a sealed room with our faces covered in gas masks fearing a chemical attack, my father, who is a visual artist and caricaturist, worked on drawing political caricatures for the Israeli newspapers. It was a sight I will never forget: him drawing with his right hand, while wearing a gas mask, and holding a flash light in his left hand. He would then drive to deliver the caricatures to the newspapers, with my grandfather who was a WWII veteran who didn’t fear the Gulf War as much as we did. Periodically, they had to stop the car on the side of the road, then lay down next to it when they heard air-raid sirens. When the sirens stopped, the two of them got back into the car and kept driving. The show must go on. Art has to be created, delivered, published, and absorbed, and no wars can stop that.

Seattle Opera's Semele (2015) photo by Elise Bakketun 
A reoccurring criticism of our increasingly digital, high-tech world is that we are losing connection to our humanity. And yet, you are someone who harnesses technology in your artistic work. Do you think that technology can help us in fact, connect to our humanity?
Technology is just a set of tools. It can be helpful, just as much as it can be destructive. It’s up to us what we do with it.

Projectors, sewing machines, lighting, cameras, are all “technology,” so in that sense, even the simplest show uses a lot of technological support. I look at technological advancements as an opportunity for richer storytelling, but every piece I design requires different levels of technological tools.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs plays Feb. 23-March 23, 2019 at McCaw Hall. Learn more about this opera on our Spotlight Guide.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Adam Lau in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

The many faces of Adam Lau! Pictured: Lau as Ferrando in Il trovatore, both in rehearsal and in performance; Lau as Makoto Kobayashi, and Lau as The Speaker in The Magic Flute. Philip Newton photos

By Samantha Newland 

For The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Seattle Opera is proud to welcome back Adam Lau, who performed in The Magic Flute (2017) last season, and in the world premiere of An American Dream (2015). The San Francisco native will practically be a local by the opening of (R)evolution, following his performances as Ferrando in Seattle Opera’s Il Trovatore last month. In (R)evolution, Lau sings the role of Kōbun Chino Otogawa, a Japanese Zen priest who was Jobs’ mentor in life and BuddhismKōbun works to guide egocentric Jobs in balancing business and well-being.

“He nurtured so many people, most famously Steve Jobs," Lau said. "He had a pretty dry sense of humor, which you get a lot of in the opera,” Lau says of his character. “His delivery is dry and direct, similar to Zen Buddhism: it cuts through the noise and goes to the heart of the matter."

Kōbun Chino Otogawa, left. In 1991, Otogawa presided over the marriage of Jobs and Laurene Powell.

Lau also reflected on Kōbun's role as a father-figure. The opera explores Jobs’ feelings of abandonment and fractured identity due to his biological parents' putting him up for adoption. In the opera, the audience sees Jobs' search for a leader and for structure in his life, which adds humanity to a character often seen as robotic.

“Jobs was searching for fathers throughout his entire life, but in the end, he sort of became a father to us allin the way he made us think. He had the foresight to gift us with something before we even knew we wanted it. I think this gave him peace, made him whole. He pulled us into the future,” Lau said.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs plays Feb. 23-March 23, 2019 at McCaw Hall. Learn more about this opera on our Spotlight Guide.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Steve Jobs: also a 'traditional' opera

Minnesota Opera's La Bohéme; Dan Norman photo. Santa Fe Opera's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs; Ken Howard photo; and Metropolitan Opera's Carmen; Ken Howard photo.

By Melinda Bargreen 

We’ve all met the operagoers whose list of preferred operas consists of (1) Carmen, (2) La Bohéme, and (3) “No, thank you.”

Of course, it’s perfectly understandable to want to hear (1) and (2). But an art form will gradually stultify if it only presents the beloved classics over and over again. And audiences will stultify right along with them. If opera as art form and entertainment is to survive, it needs to be brought into the 21st century. And that’s exactly what Seattle Opera is doing with its upcoming production of a work that is already being hailed as a modern classic: Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

A visit earlier this month (between snowstorms) to the Seattle Opera rehearsal hall in the new Opera Center reveals an opera that’s really a fast-moving, fascinating series of scenes in the life of computer visionary Steve Jobs – scenes of manic joy and existential despair. These episodes illuminate some key developments in the life of Jobs (sung by JohnMoore), each shedding a different light on the genius’ road from brash, heedless youngster to a reflective adult who must face his mortal illness.

Madison Leonard portrays Chrisann Brennan, Steve Job's girlfriend, in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Philip Newton photo
And yet, for all its 21st-century trappings,” this opera is utterly familiar. It’s about love and death, just as certainly as is La Bohème – another opera about youngsters and mortality. There really is an “evolution” here, as well as Jobs’ famous “revolution” of the world of computers (as the co-founder of Apple). We watch him evolve from a heedless, callous young man who declares to his pregnant girlfriend, “Get rid of it. I don’t want it – not now, not ever. I’ll say it’s not mine.” With the guidance of his Buddhist spiritual adviser, Kōbun Chino Otogawa (Adam Lau), we see Jobs confronting his mortality, realizing that a key mission for his time on earth is to “connect.”

Clocking in at about an hour and a half, in a rapid succession of scenes without intermission,

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs thrives on intimate conversations and confrontations. The score, combining electronic and acoustic music, is in great hands with conductor NicolePaiement, whose command of brand-new repertoire has led to an imposing list of world-premiere and U.S.-premiere credits in major opera centers.

Ken Howard photo for Santa Fe Opera
It’s not all angst and Zen. For instance, there’s a gleeful, exuberant scene in which Jobs and his collaborator Steve Wozniak (Garrett Sorenson) cavort around Wozniak’s garage after discovering how to make free phone calls with a “blue box” device. The exultant kids, who call the Vatican posing as Henry Kissinger, gloat that they’ve “brought Ma Bell to her knees,” and vow to “take down the corporate giants.” Great as the scene seemed in rehearsal, the slight, tousle-haired Paiement wasn’t quite satisfied: “Could we do that again? The timing is just a little off.” Her own sense of timing is certainly remarkable; in a score with lots of little twists and turns, she cues the singers with great precision; tiny inaccuracies don’t sneak past her.

John Moore (Steve Jobs) and Garrett Sorenson (Steve Wozniak) in rehearsal for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Philip Newton photo
Director Kevin Newbury is still tweaking the action; he is the kind of director who leaps to his feet and shouts, “Hey! I have an idea!” at a key point in Scene 2. His ideas about placement and movement are very specific: “When you come in, be a little more circuitous,” and “I love the walk around the blanket . . . but only once.” Newbury, who directed this opera in its world premiere in Santa Fe last year, is intimately familiar with the challenges of playing Steve Jobs: “It’s pretty formidable, this role,” he remarks to Moore, who agrees (“I’m still getting my head around it”).

Especially in this tech-obsessed region – home of Amazon and Microsoft – this opera is about as relevant as it gets for Seattle-area music lovers. Even if your operatic preferences incline toward Spanish toreadors and French bohemians, it just might be time to give West Coast computer geniuses a try.

Maestro Nicole Paiement makes her Seattle Opera debut with The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Philip Newton photo
From back to front: Seattle Opera Head of Coach Accompanists David McDade, Assistant Conductor Phil Kelsey, and Coach Accompanist Jay Rozendaal in rehearsal for Steve Jobs. Philip Newton photo

Melinda Bargreen is a Seattle music authority. She has been writing about classical music for the Seattle Times and other publications for four decades. Bargreen is also a composer, book author and professor. Learn more about Melinda's work on her website

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs plays Feb. 23-March 23, 2019 at McCaw Hall. Learn more about this opera on our Spotlight Guide

Amplification in the opera house?! What gives?

Bill Mohn photo

By Jonathan Dean, Seattle Opera Dramaturg

For many of us, it’s very simple: opera is the art of singing without amplification. That’s right, in a typical opera at McCaw Hall, even when you’re sitting at the back of the second tier you are enjoying the actual sound of the singers’ voices, no microphones needed. The purity of that transaction—voice to ears—is one of the chief attractions of the art form, and increasingly, the opera house is one of the few places in the world where unamplified voices, in all their individuality and human beauty, are presented in public. 

That’s not to say we don’t have microphones. Opera companies have used amplification for decades, for various purposes: recording operas for broadcast or archive, or helping singers and orchestra hear each other. Amplification has only ever affected the Seattle Opera audience experience in operas with lots of spoken dialogue (such as The Magic Flute or Beatrice and Benedict), or for offstage ‘special effect’ situations. Unlike opera companies who use amplification to correct for unfortunate acoustics, we are blessed with a performing space ideally designed to deliver unamplified voices, blending with traditional instruments, to audience ears. At McCaw Hall, no such ‘enhancement’ is necessary.

John Moore as Papageno in The Magic Flute. Jacob Lucas photo 

Alek Shrader (Benedict) and Daniela Mack (Beatrice). Jacob Lucas photo
But new technology has a way of transforming not just the means, but also the end, of human activity. Acoustic guitars blend beautifully with unamplified voices. But a singer needs a microphone to blend with an electric guitar. Without it, the voice wouldn’t sound integrated, and might easily be overpowered. Going back several decades, opera composers such as Philip Glass and John Adams began incorporating electronic instruments and sounds into their opera orchestras, deeply enriching their sound worlds. They use microphones to blend the singers’ voices into these new sound worlds, where the source of the sound is not acoustic, but rather a set of speakers in the auditorium. The music Mason Bates has written for
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs requires the singers’ voices to be amplified; that way, the voice comes from the same speakers where the electronic sounds originate. You might not even notice that the singers are amplified; the goal is less about making them louder, and more about incorporating the voices with the electronic sounds. This approach creates an important new role, that of the sound designer, who now joins the other members of the opera’s creative team.

Photo by Ken Howard.
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs plays Feb. 23-March 23, 2019 at McCaw Hall. Learn more about this opera by reading our Spotlight Guide

Friday, February 8, 2019

Method Acting, Steve Jobs, and Opera

John Moore's headshot contrasts with a photo of him in rehearsal for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs; Philip Newton photo.
In this interview with BBC journalist Brian Wise, baritone John Moore (Steve Jobs in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs) talks more about his approach to personifying the visionary CEO, known for his shaved head and turtleneck:

“I’ve lost 20 pounds over the last year,” Moore said. “I’m at the smallest weight that I’ve ever been ... I normally have beautiful, curly brown hair down to the middle of my back and (decided to) shave it completely off for this role and to look somewhat gaunt...I get excited about being the truest representation that onstage that I can be and because it’s Steve Jobs, there’s nothing to hide behind. It’s a black shirt and blue jeans and for him at that time, a bald head and some scruffy facial hair.”
Read the full article on Brian Wise's website, and learn more about Seattle Opera's production on our Spotlight Guide