Creation of Breaking Bad — Ozymandias (2014 World Premiere) by Sung Jin Hong
December 5, 2013
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 – “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: email@example.com