Opening Chords from Addiction
“One World Symphony continues its tradition of adventurous programming with an upcoming concert on the theme of addiction. The word addiction conjures up the usual vices- drugs, sex, gambling, and shopping to name a few. But, what about those that are addicted to the intoxicating feelings of being in love? You know, the kind of person that feels most alive when in the throws of a love affair and intentionally, or perhaps unintentionally, generates melodrama for the pure thrill of the emotional highs and lows of it all. Of course, all of this intensity ultimately leads to the demise of the relationship because even high drama gets old, and the love addict inevitably needs a new fix.
Most appropriately, on the bill in January will be Berlioz's La mort d'Ophélie (The Death of Ophelia). Berlioz was the quintessential love addict. After seeing Irish actress Harriet Smithson in the role of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Berlioz, enamoured, vowed to marry her. Having never met her, he initiated five years of intense pursuit of his “Ophelia” beginning with a flood of love letters, which terrified the actress. She was so scared that she avoided Berlioz for years. In the meantime, his obsession deepened, and he composed his Symphonie Fantastique inspired by his love for her. Smithson ended up attending an important performance of the Symphonie Fantastique in Paris, and after realizing it was for and about her she agreed to finally meet him. Despite their inability to communicate (she spoke limited French and him limited English) they married in a civil ceremony shortly thereafter at the British Embassy in Paris. Do I need to even tell you how the torrid relationship ends?
La mort d'Ophélie, inspired by Berlioz's experience of Smithson's engaging performance of the Shakespearean character, is layered with the obsessive nature of his addiction to love. I can't wait to join Maestro Hong and One World Symphony in bringing this composition to life, all the while exploring the chaos of addiction, which can be exhilarating, inspiring and frightening all at the same time. A human condition to which I'm sure we can all relate.” — Sonya Headlam on Berlioz's La mort d'Ophélie
“When Sung Jin asked me to sing the part of Skyler White in his new opera, I must confess I had never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad. I had heard of it, certainly, but it had never struck me as my sort of show. Now, it is my new addiction. I can't watch one without jonesing for another. When I go out, I'm always thinking about the next episode, and whenever anybody mentions it, I flee for fear of spoilers. I can think of no better show that encapsulates the idea of addiction; from Walter's lust for money and power to the junkies who live off his product to my own need to know what happens next, this show is the embodiment of addiction. Neither can I think of a better basis for an opera. The drama inherent in the show is worthy of that of royalty and deity, and yet modern enough for today's world. It is no secret that opera is no longer the cultural giant it was, but maybe, just maybe, Breaking Bad — Ozymandias will make a new generation of opera-addicts.” — Abigail Kempson on Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere)
“I was elated when Sung Jin contacted me with the news he was composing an opera based on the TV drama Breaking Bad and asked me to be a part of the cast as Jane Margolis. My elation was, in part, because I knew this opera had the opportunity to be popular and successful. The other part of my excitement was because this presented an amazing opportunity for the world of opera. Sadly, opera as a popular art form is declining. I believe this is mostly because many people struggle to relate to it in today's world. The doors of opportunity for people to enter into the world of opera have been closing for some time. Sung Jin and One World Symphony have, with the creation Breaking Bad — Ozymandias, set a portal for people of all walks of life to enter into, and be engaged in, the wonderful art of opera. Performances like the ones of One World Symphony may not only keep opera alive, but because of them, opera could flourish once again. Sung Jin's compositions interest audiences of all ages because of their accessibility and relevance. I am honored to have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of innovation within the opera world and to be a part of something that will reverberate across various artistic mediums and audiences, and find relevance in today's modern cultural world.” — Dorothy Smith Jacobs on Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere)
“I am thrilled to be part of such an exciting program. To perform Tatiana's Letter scene has been my dream for very long. And to be part of the world premiere of Breaking Bad – Ozymandias written by Sung Jin is an experience I am sure I will not forget. Sung Jin's talent and passion for transforming a story and the deep meanings of human experiences into music is stunning and inspiring to me every time I hear his compositions, and every time I work with him. And on top of it, this time his choice of programming Tatiana's Letter scene with the opera Breaking Bad also challenged my imagination. At one point I asked myself: what is Tatiana's Letter scene doing together with Breaking Bad? Why is it relevant to Addiction? In my mind Tatiana's letter scene was always just a beautiful and passionate music about being in love. It is not until I watched the Breaking Bad series and started working on an interpretation of Tatiana's letter that I understood the connection. As Tatiana is writing this love letter to Onegin, she is basically in a kind of schizophrenic state of mind. It is the same battle inside that she is experiencing that any other person who has experienced addiction will understand. There are two Tatiana's inside of her mind. One says: Do not tell Onegin that you are in love with him… it is a bad, bad idea, and the other Tatiana is ready to give up any common sense for an intoxicating feeling that she is going to experience if she only tells him how much she is in love with him. And for that she is willing to ruin her reputation and be shamed by him… She has no idea how Onegin will react to her letter… But by the end of letter, she makes a decision and with a bit of hope for the best outcome, she is taking her chance to experience love without barriers. She takes the drug…” — Irina Mozyleva on Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere)
“There can be no doubt that the Breaking Bad serves as excellent inspiration for an opera. Human emotions and desires remain the same as laws, technology, and other tools change throughout history. There is a power in opera’s ability to comment on modern society. I agreed without hesitation to once again collaborate with conductor Sung Jin Hong. His wide breadth of musicianship — from an elegant and effortless Suor Angelica (Puccini) to his own dramatic and passionate original compositions — truly encourages me to transform and grow during our rehearsals and performances. It is a joy to collaborate with such an inviting and unpretentious organization as One World Symphony. There is a certain luxury in witnessing the world premiere of a work, conducted by its own composer. The beauty of opera is that it is a social event, a communing of people from all backgrounds to witness art being created. One World Symphony’s audience comes back time and time again to be engaged and thrilled. This experience will be an incredibly intimate and adventurous one for all who are along for the ride.” — Dominique Donnarumma on Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere)
“I am proud and excited to be part of such an undertaking as presenting the operatic version of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias. On a personal level, it means stepping out of my comfort zone as a classical musician and into the world of 'pop-culture meets art music'. On a broader level, I am excited about being part of the world of possibilities that new operas are bringing to the concert stage, especially in a city like New York. After watching the show Breaking Bad myself, I realized that, behind seemingly simple criminal situations, there lies a wide world of intricate personal developments in each of the characters. These developments are very much like the ones present in the musical masterpieces of the concert and operatic repertoire we know today. I applaud Sung Jin Hong for being part of the new generation of composers that are making connections- like the “dead” composers once did- between a vast palette of musical possibilities and the world we live in.” — José Pietri-Coimbre on Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere)
“I was very excited when Sung Jin extended the opportunity to sing Senta's Ballad in the upcoming concert, Addiction. With my first recent taste of singing Wagner I've been hooked and am thrilled to experience this fantastic oceanic tale with Sung Jin and the amazing musicians of One World Symphony. Senta shows us that addiction presents itself not only in relationship to substance, but also with states of being. We see this as well, in the way that Walter White in Breaking Bad ironically displays a dependence upon power that warps his personality as drastically as would the meth he makes — Senta takes a story into her blood and can no longer function like others around her. She stares at a picture of the man who forms the object of her obsession, as if she herself were at sea. The implications of Senta's eventual suicide are complex as her action is presented as a triumph of her faith. In any case, she is within the tide of her addiction. Senta loves too much. But that's likely why we love her. — Heather Green on Wagner's The Flying Dutchman