Opening Chords from Libera
I am very excited to be once again such a big part of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias by Sung Jin Hong. Singing this work a few months back with One World Symphony and the rest of the cast, under the leadership of Mr. Hong, was a very inspiring, eye-opening experience. After having immersed myself in understanding my character of Walter White/Heisenberg/Ozymandias through the sounds of this work, I value the opera even more as a great example of living art and admire Mr. Hong's ability to bridge the gap between art music and the world we live in. – Jose Pietri-Coimbre on Sung Jin Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014)
I started watching Breaking Bad in preparation for this performance, and I am, predictably, hooked. The thematic connections between the music and the show were obvious from the start. The unsympathetic-ness of everything — Walt's impossible financial problems, his apathetic students and well-intentioned but cloying family, even the indifferent landscape — is maddeningly frustrating. Sung Jin has managed to translate this sentiment precisely to the opera — the asymmetrical rhythmic motifs, the unresolving chords, the increasingly incessant brass passages — it's enough to drive anyone crazy. Then, there's poor Walt, alternately empowered and helpless, providing beautifully detached insight, omniscient in a way that only someone who understands the world on a subatomic level could be. I think Sung Jin's piece is larger than the sum of its parts — there's a certain cheapness that generally goes along with the marriage of pop culture and classical music, but that does not apply here. This is truly inspired and I am honored to play the role of Marie. – Veronica Forman on Sung Jin Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014)
One World Symphony is “breaking bad” by putting a TV show on the classical music stage! Why not?! Big Fish and Legally Blonde have gone on Broadway. Sung Jin Hong’s Breaking Bad — Ozymandias may just as well open an opportunity to invite more public to be involved in something associated to classical music. The character of Jane Margolis sparkled in only a few episodes, but she was spoiled by her very own irresistible quality that plays out various manipulative effects on people around her: to her father Donald Margolis, who could never say no to his lovely only daughter and later caused a plane crash;" to her neighbor/ tendant/ boyfriend Jesse Pinkman, who fell in love with this “Apology Girl” and turned back onto drug addiction; and to Walter White, who wouldn’t yield to Jane’s blackmailing and her influence on Jesse, thus decided to watch Jane die—“I could have saved her, but I didn't.”—a crunch that led to the insight of Ozymandias. – Sharon Cheng on Sung Jin Hong's Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014)
It is a fantastic and scary joy to sing "O don Fatale," Eboli's aria from Don Carlo. Why? Because, besides being arguably the most technically difficult aria, it also covers a huge range of human emotions — from the complete crash of all hopes, humiliation and despair, and funeral procession through dignified yet kneeling weeping, to the blinding gold of ultimate hope. From "Don crudel che in suo furor mi fece il cielo" (cruel gift which in its fury heaven has made for me) to "la speme m'arride" (hope smiles at me) and "Benedetto il ciel" ( blessed heaven). One can probably fully indulge in such catharsis only if "no one's watching," which is the most ultimately liberating experience... But: everyone IS watching, and we're all in it together... What can top that? How about rebelling against authority in times when being "la favorite" guarantees absolute security and is everything? As Schiller said, "hunger and love are what moves the world." So, if one risks losing security in the name of love — THAT is ultimate Libera for me! – Gulnara Mitzanova on Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo
When I found out that One World Symphony was looking for someone to perform a few of Antonio Lauro’s solo guitar pieces, I jumped at the chance. Earlier that day I had talked to a student about Lauro and remarked that I should play his music more often. I’m excited that Sung Jin has given me just that opportunity. Lauro’s works have a simple beauty in their melodies, with accompanying harmonies of a jazz-like flavor and compellingly syncopated rhythms that evoke Venezuela; his name has become synonymous with these elements. The two pieces I’m performing are both Venezuelan Valses: “La Gatica” and “Valse No. 4 (Yacambu)” (from 4 Valses Venezolanos). Both start with exactly the same first measure, but each quickly takes on its own distinctive character, while continually returning to that initial phrase. This pairing, which many would consider uncommon, is exciting precisely because of that shared measure. – Rob Adler on Antonio Lauro's music for guitar
I am very excited to be performing Antonio Lauro’s El Negrito on the upcoming One World Symphony Concert. Although it was originally composed for guitar, I will be performing a transcription for solo harp. This is quite common for us harpists – many of the solo pieces we perform were originally composed for either guitar or piano. Lauro wrote this Venezuelan waltz for his youngest son Luis – it is beautiful in it’s lullaby-esque simplicity. This particular waltz is meant to be performed alongside Lauro’s piece La Gatica, which Lauro wrote for his wife (which will be performed by guitarist Rob Adler on the May 19th concert). It is particularly interesting to be a part of the performance of these two pieces on the same concert as Sung Jin Hong’s opera based on the television show Breaking Bad. Although Lauro and the character of Walter White are completely different in almost every way, they are both attempting to honor the two people that mean the most to them – their son and wife. - Kristi Shade on Antonio Lauro’s music for guitar
When my husband, Sung Jin, selected Breaking Bad on our Netflix account and hit “play” nearly 8 months ago I never imagined how it would affect the fabric of our life so thoroughly in the months to come. It was only a couple of weeks before the series finale and we started watching it because Sung Jin’s sister, Jahee, informed him that we were "missing the best show that was ever on television” and that we would love it. She was right.
The show tapped into our already addictive tendencies (usually reserved for food) and encouraged a three week binge-watching festival. More often than not, I would go to bed at 1:00 in the morning (because I do have to sleep sometime) and Sung Jin would watch several episodes ahead. At 4:00 or 5:00 am he would finally come to bed and unable to sleep until he cryptically recounted the episodes he saw for the next 40 minutes. I would hear things like: “Oh my god, you’ll never believe what happened!”… “that was probably the best episode so far”… “do you want me to tell you what happens?”… “It was so good"… “Bryan Cranston is so moving” …”you really feel for him"… “it’s SO OPERATIC!”… and then finally one night right before the series finale … “It would make an amazing opera. I think I’m going to do it.”
Sung Jin's original plan was to write a mini opera centered on Shelley’s Ozymandias. He envisioned a 15 minute work. He announced it on the symphony's Breaking Blog and within an hour of us posting it TIME broke the news on their website. By the end of that day it was practically viral and the news continued to spread like wildfire globally. People were talking about it from Asia to South America, in news sites as well as blogs – from BBC to Perez Hilton. Jimmy Fallon even mentioned it on his show!!! We were floored and could not have imagined this level of attention. With the attention came expectations. The press and fans certainly inferred many details. It seemed that many expected a full recounting of the entire Breaking Bad plot line in opera form… with just three months to write it!
It posed a unique challenge for my husband. How could he capture the mood and power of the series and create a work that would be artistically moving, actively engage our audience, and satisfy some of the expectations of show’s fan base? Well needless to say his originally-intended 15 minute work soon expanded to about 50 minutes and was written over the course of a very intense three months. Sung Jin would lock himself in our home studio and write (by hand) for large stretches of the the day and through most nights. He worked clean through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Sleep became a luxury. There were a few nights after I had been asleep for a few hours where I would wake up to Sung Jin standing and muttering questions to me from beside the bed to get my opinion. A couple of times, he actually picked up the portable piano and set it on the bed to play themes and sketches before he elaborated them. Our cat, Cleo, oversaw the entire compositional process on his desk for quality assurance.
Even though I have great faith in my husband’s ability to move people through music, I was very nervous… for about three months! There was so much expectation! By the first vocal rehearsal, we already had two sold-out shows! Will the public like it? Can the audience appreciate the choices that were made? In my heart I felt the music had its own will. It was intense and cinematic, brooding, tender and haunting, carefree and infused with regret. To me, it was everything that it needed to be – the big and the small of it. But it was by no means an abridged version of the award-winning series. Rather it captured the important and over-arching sentiments of the drama in a poignantly musical fashion.
The performances and our audiences exceeded our expectations! It felt as though a great weight had been lifted! The reviews were incredibly gracious and we received such an enthusiastic reception from our audiences afterwards I could not have been more grateful.
Many people asked us if we would perform it again! So here we go! This time I am joining the cast as Walt’s wife, Skyler. In many ways I feel I can relate to Skyler. While although my husband is not the head of a meth-producing empire, I understand the pressures of what it is like to be married to someone who throws his whole person into striving to create excellence to the point of obsession. Life doesn’t always follow the path you were raised to think it is supposed to. It certainly makes life eventful! – Adrienne Metzinger on Sung Jin Hong's Breaking Bad—Ozymandias (2014)