Creation of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere) by Sung Jin Hong
Feb 26 Classic FM Exclusive! • Feb 02 Vote & Break Bad Again • Jan 14 Revealed: Breaking Bad – Ozymandias • Jan 13 Cast of Breaking Bad – Ozymandias • Dec 5 Tweak of Chemistry • Oct 22 Bitch Aria • Oct 16 BBC feature • Oct 7 Breaking Bad – Ozymandias
CLASSIC FM EXCLUSIVE of BREAKING BAD— OZYMANDIAS
Listen to the live unedited world premiere performance of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias at “the U.K.’s favourite classical station.” We at One World Symphony are grateful that Classic FM’s Mel Spencer asked usto share a recording of the world premiere performance.
Who watched Jimmy Fallon’s first Tonight Show broadcast from NYC? His very first opening monologue offered appreciation, earnest, charm, humor, and lots of honest emotion. Besides being a gracious host, he’s definitely not afraid to share his feelings and show his emotions. With an endearing and sweet tone, he shared the Tonight Show’s VISION: “My goal is to make you laugh, put a smile on your face... so you may go to bed with a smile on your face... so you may live a longer life.”
His “vision” re-energized me to continue to pursue how One World Symphony can better fulfill its VISION. In Jimmy’s vernacular, our goal is to share our passion with our musical partners, our audiences, with powerful performances, so they may smile, shed a tear or two, and even laugh or be inspired... so you may live a healthier life. Inspired by Jimmy Fallon and recommended by my wife Adrienne Metzinger, we, our audiences and musicians, will play games during our upcoming shows. What games? How about Catchphrase, Name That Tune, Pictionary, or even Charades — both musical and dance? If there's a big market for cynical, divisive and mean humor, I hope Jimmy continues to simply be funny.
Thaw the last stubborn bit of snow in our upcoming show Spring Break on March 17, 2014 with Vivaldi’s effervescent “Spring” and scorching “Summer” concertos from The Four Seasons, Andrew Struck-Marcell’s lyrical world premiere Infinity, and Shostakovich’s saucy and fiery Chamber Symphony No. 7 (world premiere arrangement of his String Quartet No. 7).
Breaking Bad… again
Thank you very much to many fans who have expressed their request to experience Breaking Bad — Ozymandias. We will break bad again in in the spring. Details will follow soon on how you can participate in the “Bitch Aria.”
On Valentine’s Day, One World Symphony musicians performed its third annual morning serenade for NYC’s largest soup kitchen Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (HASK). Before the performance, we had our only rehearsal held at 9:00 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. What was so memorable was that the staff and volunteers of HASK sat down and watched our generous musicians rehearse. They were so appreciative and attentive that you could hear their breathing. Check out photos from our Valentine Serenade for HASK here.
Dear addicts of music and Breaking Bad!
On behalf of One World Symphony staff and artists, I would like to thank everyone who came and experienced the world premiere performances of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014). It was a great pleasure to share our passion with our enthusiastic audience members. Also, thank you very much for accepting the invitation to play important roles in bringing the "Bitch Aria" alive.
Yo Bitch! Experience the fun again!
View our 50 second video of our "Bitch" interaction here >>
Read the reviews >>
VOTE & BREAK BAD AGAIN:
We have received many emails requesting that we repeat Breaking Bad — Ozymandias. We are considering to fulfill the popular request by performing a movement or two from Breaking Bad — Ozymandias in One World Symphony's upcoming shows in March or May 2014. The March and May shows are detailed here >>
Our audiences are encouraged to email us and voice your preferred movement(s) from Breaking Bad — Ozymandias to be performed again in March or May 2014. The five movements are:
III. The Moment
IV. Jesse's Dream ("Bitch")
We would love to hear from you by February 7 by emailing: email@example.com
Let's begin a DIALOGUE!
Your input and feedback about your recent One World Symphony experience are welcome. Did you enjoy the musical selections? Did you enjoy the audience interaction and the way we performed and shared our passion with you? Would you attend our shows if we don't program works related to TV shows? Most importantly, do you feel that we are fulfilling our VISION:
One World Symphony is dedicated to integrating itself into the fabric of the community through adventurous programming, inspiring performances, benefit concerts, and audience and community engagement.
We at One World Symphony would love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, thank you very much and we look forward to beginning our dialogue.
Sung Jin Hong
Artistic Director and Composer-Conductor
One World Symphony
REVEALED: HEISENBERG CHORD & DETAILS ABOUT BREAKING BAD – OZYMANDIAS
“Breaking” means “change.” Walt clearly stated: “I prefer chemistry as the study of change.” Everyone paid a terrible price for his metamorphosis: his wife, his son, Hank, Hank’s wife, Jesse, Jane, Jane’s father, and of course Walt himself. “Chemistry” wasn’t simply the process of change for Walt, but it was the continuous motion of chain reactions of events of which he lost control. The plot and the narrative progress, and their pace may distract some viewers from asking the obvious moral questions: Is Walt doing the right thing? Is he good? Was he ever? What would I have done in his shoes?
In my composition, consisting of five movements, I would like to explore the question: are we all breaking bad? Are we, to some extent, guilty of the Greek themes of hubris (extreme pride) in the pursuit of arete (excellence) and kleos (glory)?
Inspired by “Crazy Handful of Nothin” (season 1, episode 6), which may have been one of the scientific highlights of Breaking Bad, the first movement “Chemistry” plants the following musical seeds:
- Heisenberg Chord: embellished polychord representing the motif of Walt’s warning: “I am the danger.”
- Heisenberg Rhythm/Heartbeat: obsessive pattern to give the sense of foreboding and being chased. Similar to Wagner’s and Berlioz’s use of motifs, whose works will be also performed alongside Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014), the Heisenberg chord and heartbeat will be my leitmotifs and idées fixes. The origins of the Heisenberg Chord and Rhythm are discussed in a recent interview with Mel Spencer of Classic FM, UK's favourite classical radio station.
- Aztec instruments to offer a Southwestern flavor: huehuetl, teponaztli, and quijada (the jawbone of an ass)
- Moral chaos
- Skyler’s lullaby
- The subject of Fugue (second movement)
- Kleos theme (glory): When all these musical seeds are combined and gradually unfold in continuous action, it is transformed into the Kleos theme.
Influenced by Walt’s wandering and bare “fugue state” (from season 2, episode 3, “Bit by a Dead Bee”), the Fugue is a patient and subtle narrative showing the metamorphosis of Walt White into Heisenberg. The four-part fugue also uses bitonality, two simultaneous tonal centers depicting inner conflict. The keys (two separate personalities or two sides of the ego?) struggle for dominance, resulting in an inevitable collision. Which one will prevail? Or do they merge to create a new key?
Similar to the way Vince Gilligan created tension within a small space and limited environment (like cooking meth in a trailer, holding a hostage under a basement, trying to kill a fly in their lab), the Fugue follows Gilligan’s approach of harnessing and taking time to build tension.
III. The Moment
If there was a “Eureka” moment for Walt, this was it. From the third season’s 10th episode “Fly,” Walt laments and confesses his “perfect moment...”
The moving scene performed by Bryan Cranston was poignant, intimate, and tender. Musically, the explosive and moral chaos elements from the movement “Chemistry” are in the background, while Walt’s lament is treated with haunting lyricism. Jane and women singing closed-mouth vocalise with Skyler’s lullaby bookend Walt’s chilling realization.
IV. Jesse’s Dream (“Bitch”)
This is an ode to Jesse Pinkman, who may have been the moral center of the drama. Breaking Bad has clear parallels to Goethe’s influential play Faust. We can agree that Walt is Faust, but who are his Mephistopheles and Gretchen? Some may consider meth as Mephistopheles and Walt’s family as Gretchen. I lean towards Walt himself transformed into Heisenberg as the demon and Jesse as Gretchen, who is constantly persuaded by Walt to return to the dark path. My Heisenberg chord and heartbeat will be chasing Jesse, while he is trying his hardest to escape from him. At the turning point, we get a glimpse of Jesse’s dream, a sense of hope (from the final episode of the series). To show my gratitude to the fans of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias, the live audience will play a huge part in bringing this movement alive.
V. Ozymandias (from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet)
Shelley’s sonnet is devoted to a metaphor for the volatile nature of power and reveals the impermanence of human achievement. When Walt White transformed into Heisenberg, he was Shelley’s Ozymandias incarnate. I give credit to Gilligan and his team of directors and writers for choosing this poem that depicts that all rulers eventually will fall, claimed by their own self-destructive nature. The five seasons of Breaking Bad may have been building towards this moment — just like Ozymandias, “King of Kings,” Heisenberg’s empire crumbled to dust and into a “colossal wreck.” This movement opens with similar polytonal qualities from “The Moment” and builds towards the final pinnacle: the transformed and fully harvested kleos (“self-glory”) theme from the movement “Chemistry.” How will the opera end? Will it be faithful to the sonnet, or to the show?
BREAKING BAD — OZYMANDIAS CAST
I’d like to introduce you to One World Symphony’s Addiction cast. All vocalists have auditioned for One World Symphony over the last three years, including our current season auditions held on May and September 2013. Casting started in November and was confirmed in December.
When an artist is cast in a new opera, they usually receive a sketch of a short score in advance from the composer. All our Breaking Bad — Ozymandias vocal artists committed to the project without receiving one single note from me. Their level of patience, trust, and commitment is rare, and I am immensely grateful.
Our first rehearsal with piano and vocalists was held on Friday, January 10 at our home. It was an amazing night. We began the evening with rehearsing three smaller groups simultaneously — in our living room, library, and bedroom (I can only imagine what the neighbors thought). After the sectional rehearsal, we gathered together in the living room for our first sing-through. All the vocalists were prepared and passionate. Everyone embraced the challenges of the new score and the opportunity to bring the notes — the “blueprint” — to life.
If there’s an MVP in our dedicated cast, it is Irina Mozyleva. We first made music together collaborating in orchestrated Shostakovich songs in 2010 and continued with Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Marfa in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Tsar’s Bride. Not only will she be performing as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s soaring “Letter Scene” from Eugene Onegin, she will be performing in the same concert as Marie Schrader and as orchestral pianist in Breaking Bad — Ozymandias! She is an absolute wonder woman. My only concern is: Can she change in time after she has sung Tatyana to perform as Marie?
José Pietri-Coimbre first performed with One World Symphony in 2005 as a violinist in James Coleman’s Memorial Concert (James was our principal violist for three years who tragically passed away after battling cancer at age 33). Ever since then, José has served as concertmaster, principal second, principal viola, and vocal soloist. His debut as a principal vocal artist reminds me how Leonard Bernstein made his debut with the New York Philharmonic as last-minute replacement. José was a section violinist in One World Symphony’s production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. In opera, last-minute cast changes are not rare, and we needed someone to perform the challenging role of Forester during the week of the production. José was playing in the violin section and I asked him to “give it a try.” He was certainly one of the heroes in our critically-acclaimed production of Vixen. I’m looking forward to witnessing his transformation from the unassuming science teacher to the fallen emperor Heisenberg/Ozymandias.
Sonya Headlam is a beautiful soul. We first made music together when she covered roles and sang in choruses in One World Symphony shows in 2006. Ever since then, we have been active collaborators in Berlioz’s Le Nuits d’Été, Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, and orchestrated songs of Sibelius, Schumann, Duparc, and Amy Beach. When Sonya and I rehearse together, we always breathe together and really hear ear to ear. Our heartbeats become one to bring the music to life. Sonya will be making her debut as a mother at our show, as she and her husband Jesse had their first child, Noah, just three months ago. Congratulations!
Please get to know our entire vocal cast by reading their Opening Chords here.
Today’s blog entry is brought to you in part by The Flaming Meatballs. Our MVP Irina's talented daughter Leah Nikolaya is a vocalist and bass guitarist of this blues and rock band. Without Leah's support, her mother would not be able to attend our Breaking Bad — Ozymandias rehearsals.
“A LITTLE TWEAK OF CHEMISTRY”
(episode 6: “Crazy Handful of Nothin”)
Poll: Would you like to hear a sneak peek of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias?
One World Symphony just added a concert on Wednesday, December 18 at 8 p.m. to benefit NYC’s largest soup kitchen, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. The show A Nordic Holiday will feature works by Sibelius and Grieg. During the post-concert wine reception, guests will be serenaded by the Robert Page Jazz Trio. Tickets are on sale now.
Also on December 18, One World Symphony may possibly feature part of the movement “Chemistry” from my mini-opera. The complete composition with multiple movements will be premiered as scheduled on January 26-27, 2014. Details and tickets are here.
Would you like to hear a sneak peek during the December 18 show? If so, please email: email@example.com
Time Out New York Cover Feature
TONY’s Kenny Herzog recently interviewed me about Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014). Time Out featured One World Symphony’s production on the cover as a part of its 2014 Winter Preview i> “Your Perfect Winter.” Similar to earlier interviews this fall, Kenny’s questions helped me to continue to explore the drama further. For instance, Greek themes of hubris (“extreme pride”), arete (“excellence”), and kleos (“glory”) were dominant in portraying the transformation of the protagonist. Aren’t we all guilty of these to some extent? Are we all breaking bad? You can check out the cover and complete interview here.
The episode “Crazy Handful of Nothin” may have been one of the scientific highlights of Breaking Bad. Mr. White is teaching his class about power of chemical reactivity. He gives the example of metal oxidation, which is gradual and imperceptible. Other times, the reaction can be violent, quick, and produces explosive energy, such as the compound mercury fulminate Hg(ONC)2 .
One of the most explosive and empowering moments occurred later in the same episode (SPOILER ALERT). Walt returned to the ruthless drug lord Tuco and threw a large piece of crystal that appeared to be meth. It exploded! The stunned and humbled Tuco asked: “What is it?” Walt responded: “A little tweak of chemistry.” Has the metamorphosis of Walt become more transparent? The cancer-stricken chemistry teacher desperate to save his family may have taken the back seat and the drug dealer may have been born. Did Walt find a new mistress who plays second fiddle to no one?
Just like how Walt has explained chemical reactions, I’m working to make my composition to have similar properties: slow, gradual imperceptible development of ideas and explosive compounds. How am I going to do this? Without giving too much away, not only am I looking forward to bringing the characters to life again through the vocal soloists, but also the full symphony.
To explore the potential dark side and the metamorphoses in the principal characters, the lowest instruments in each section will play significant roles: the bass drum, double bass, tuba, contrabassoon, bass clarinet, and the evocative bass flute. These instruments will be the floors, walls of a home. They may not have the agility as virtuoso violinists, but with their “basso profundo” presence, they will plant the seeds of brooding themes that will gradually build, combust towards the climax.
Bach, Beethoven, Pink Floyd?
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan clearly had an incredible amount of patience in building his storyline and characters. He kept the cast of characters small without introducing new characters constantly (like many other shows that introduce “star” guests). He reached deep into his characters by investing in the core cast, even though they are viewed through Walt’s perspective.
I am following Gilligan’s lead as I prefer to invest in few musical motifs instead of bringing a new theme every four to eight measures without developing any relationship within the whole architecture of the work. This focused approach of investing in one single musical idea has been mastered in Johann Sebastian Bach’s fugues (check out Art of the Fugue or the popular Toccata and Fugue in D minor) and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Pink Floyd’s iconic and psychedelic album The Wall possibly has an idée fixe in four notes: “We don’t need no ed - u - ca - tion.”
As for mercury fulminate, I would strongly advise not to try to prepare it at home as the explosive is highly sensitive to heat, flame, friction, shock, sparks, smartphones, just about everything...
Today’s blog entry is brought to you in part by Adam’s Pianos. Ms. Cleo Hongzinger and I are grateful and enjoying our new babygrand “laptop.”
October 22, 2013
THE BITCH ARIA...
When Breaking Bad – Ozymandias (2014) was announced two weeks ago, I never imagined that we would receive so much excitement and interest from the public and the national and international press. It is amazing that the reports span the globe and in multiple languages: Turkish, Swedish, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish, Ukrainian, Czech, Romanian, and French. The BBC front page feature exceeded our expectations. We at One World Symphony are immensely grateful for the interest in Breaking Bad — Ozymandias.
Is “The Bitch Aria” going to be included?
Before I address one of the most popular questions from the press and public – the “Bitch Aria” – how about we discuss the character who would sing it.
“Chemistry: it is the study of change,” Walter White taught his high school students. Like all main characters in Breaking Bad, the role of Jesse Pinkman, who would sing the “Bitch Aria,” undergoes transformation. As a high school drop-out, Jesse Pinkman could have been easily dismissed, but as the narrative slowly unfolded, he developed into a complex character who might be considered the moral center of the drama. His relationship with Walt led him to make self-destructive choices time after time that spiraled out of control, but he was compassionate and caring. In contrast to Walt’s ambitions of building an empire, Jesse’s dream was carpentry, which brought him peace and hope.
How can the “Bitch Aria” not be considered in my mini-opera Breaking Bad — Ozymandias? It would embrace the character who’s morally torn, literally pulled in numerous directions and ripped apart. The aria alone has the potential to explore Jesse’s tortured soul and battered body.
Thank-yous and Mash Notes:
All the readers who have expressed their interest in One World Symphony’s production of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias.
Vince Gilligan, the visionary creator who not only inspired his cast and crew, but hypnotized the public — still lingering and obsessed with what is possibly the Great Recession’s defining melodrama.
Dedicated musicians of One World Symphony, who are committed to bringing compositions to life, as the notes on the page are only the ”blueprint.”
Clemency Burton-Hill’s BBC feature. Ms Burton-Hill is an award-winning journalist, violinist, author, and actor. Her thoughtful interview inspired me to completely update and refresh One World Symphony’s VISION.
Charlotte Alter from TIME for breaking the news of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias.
I never thought I would ever hear Perez Hilton would say: “Wowza. Well, if it ain’t deep, it ain’t opera! And Breaking Bad has all the tragedy a show needs for a true operatic performance... so we think this opera just might work!”
Thank you to One World Symphony’s webmistress Idria Barone Knecht for all the unexpected updates and edits.
Guest Illustrator: Adrienne Metzinger is One World Symphony’s managing director, director of art/website/graphic design, photographer, stage director, cook, and mezzo-soprano who will perform as Dalila on Monday, October 28 in One World Symphony’s Burlesque Halloween show Temptation.
Today’s blog entry is brought to you by Caffee Buon Gusto in Brooklyn, where we had the pleasure of celebrating our wedding anniversary last night. We were generously hosted by the owner Nando. What would have happened if she said “no” to my proposal at One World Symphony’s sold-out Town Hall debut?
October 16, 2013
BBC Top Story Features Sung Jin Hong’s Breaking Bad — Ozymandias
Recently, I was surprised and honored to receive an email from the BBC’s Clemency Burton-Hill for an interview in regards to One World Symphony’s world premiere performances of my mini-opera Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014). She hosts one of my all-time favorite artistic events of the year: The PROMS.
I appreciated that she asked a question about the ethos and programming spirit of One World Symphony. It shows she has already done some research, and her question really goes to the heart and spirit of our organization. More importantly, her question inspired me to completely update, refresh, and reboot One World Symphony’s VISION.
One of the U.K.’s leading arts broadcasters and writers, Clemency Burton-Hill is an award-winning journalist, violinist, novelist, actress. As a violinist, she has toured with Daniel Barenboim and West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, “promoting understanding between Isaraelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” I explored similar themes in Eye of the Storm (2010), a symphonic poem inspired by my visit to my homeland and the Demilitarized Zone. You can listen to a clip here.
In my next blog entry, I’m planning to address one of the most popular questions from the press and the public — will I compose a “Bitch Aria?”
A week after the series finale of Breaking Bad, I have decided to compose Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014), a mini-opera based on the award-winning drama and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet for One World Symphony’s Addiction program on January 26-27, 2014.
How will I compose this mini-opera? Should I consider having specific characters from the drama? How about setting my music to unforgettable moments from the show? Should I focus instead on Shelley’s sonnet, devoted to a single metaphor for the pride and the unrelenting pursuit for power? It is tempting to fully dive into the universe of Breaking Bad and embrace its elements, depicting moral chaos.
Cancer became an allegory for evil for the protagonist in Breaking Bad. When Walt White was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, we the audience emotionally supported him and forgave some of his actions, as they may have appeared to be justified. When the cancer went into remission, an intangible cancer was growing — his hubris and lust for power. Our sympathy began to slip as he transformed into the destructive Heisenberg. At this very moment, the details of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014) may not be confirmed, but I hope to explore the question that the drama obsessively and hauntingly asked: ”are we all breaking bad?”
In the next three months, this page will share ideas, impressions, developments and possible trajectories of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014). If you have any questions or thoughts, please email at: firstname.lastname@example.org