Steve Jobs & 6 Famous Historical Inventors & Business Pioneers In Opera

(Credit: Santa Fe Opera)

It is arguably the event of the summer. It certainly will be one of the most talked about in the world.

We are referring to the world premiere of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.”

Anytime anything regarding former Apple CEO happens, it demands attention. He needs no introduction as his iRevolution has essentially altered the way people today live their lives.

And the new opera could be every bit as unique as the man behind the iPhone. The new opera, written by librettist Mark Campbell and composer Mason Bates will premiere on July 22, centering on the makings of the great yet controversial mind that was Steve Jobs.

As we prepare to immerse ourselves in the first-ever opera on the titan, we look back at opera’s other representations of great historical inventors and pioneers. Given the loose expressions of these terms we will limit ourselves to either the worlds of business or science.

Jacob Wallenberg (1956 -): Wallenberg

 The Swedish banker and industrialist has served as a board member on a number of major companies including Atlas Copco, SAS Group, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, ABB Group, Ericsson, The Coca-Cola Company, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Investor and Stockholm School of Economics. He gets an appearance in Erkki-Sven Tüür’s “Wallenberg,” which premiered in 2007 and tells the life of Raoul Wallenberg. Jacob, while not the central figure in the opera, remains an important character.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943): Tesla – Lightning in his Hand

Nikola Tesla was one of the great inventors in history for multiple creations including the AC induction motor, which earned him great prestige. He also experimented with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging and also built a wireless-controlled boat. In Constantine Koukias’ 2003 opera, the life of Tesla is depicted through a reversal of his fortunes.

Edwin H. Armstrong (1890-1954)

Philo Farnsworth (1906-71)

David Sarnoff (1891-1971): The Birth and Theft of Television 

Armstrong is famous for developing FM radio and held 42 patents. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and included in the International Telecommunication Union’s roster of great inventors.

Farnsworth was a major inventor and TV pioneer, best-known for creating the video camera tube, image dissector, and the first fully functional and complete all-electronic television system. He also invented a small nuclear fusion device, the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor. He held over 300 patents, mainly in radio and television.

Sarnoff was another pioneer of American radio and television, leading the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) between 1919 and 1970.

Farnsworth and Armstrong are the main characters in “The Birth and Theft of Television,” a work composed by Evan Hause. The opera sees the two men battle corporate America, with the opera culminating in Armstrong’s suicide in 1954.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955): Einstein on the Beach

The great genius needs no introduction and Philip Glass makes no intention to do so in his famous work. The three major scenes in the opera, entitled “Train”, “Trial”, and “Field/Spaceship,” place an emphasis on Einstein’s hypotheses about his theory of relativity and his unified field theory.

Did we miss any major historical pioneers or inventors? Let us know in the comments below. 







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About the Author

David Salazar
Prior to creating OperaWire, DAVID SALAZAR, (Editor-in-Chief) worked as a reporter for Latin Post where he interviewed major opera stars including Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Vittorio Grigolo, Diana Damrau and Rolando Villazon among others. His 2014 interview with opera star Kristine Opolais was cited in a New York Times Review. He also had the opportunity of interviewing numerous Oscar nominees, Golden Globe winners and film industry giants such as Guillermo del Toro, Oscar Isaac and John Leguizamo among others. David holds a Masters in Media Management from Fordham University. During his time at Fordham, he studied abroad at the Jagiellonian University in Poland. He also holds a dual bachelor’s from Hofstra University in Film Production and Journalism.

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