Mozart in the Jungle

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Amazon delivered its Christmas present to classical music lovers early, releasing all 10 episodes of the third season of “Mozart in the Jungle” on December 9. For those of us who usually sit in the audience, it is a guilty pleasure to be in on the backstage world of the fictional New York Symphony Orchestra and follow the misadventures of the musicians.

At the end of Season two, contract disputes between management and the musicians led to a lockout, an all too familiar theme in the real world of troubled orchestras. Season Three picks up with the musicians coping. The flutist becomes an Uber driver. Nymphomaniac cellist Cynthia (Saffron Burrows) reconnects with one of her innumerable old flames to play electric bass guitar in a pop band. But no nookie for Cynthia; he’s married with children.

The affair between the old maestro Thomas (Malcolm McDowell) and the Board chair Gloria (Bernadette Peters) gets torrid until a brilliant “meet the parents” moment.

Hailey (Lola Kirke) has gone on tour with egomaniac cello soloist Andrew Walsh (Dermot Mulroney), which, predictably, ends badly. She quite literally gets sick of him. So she tries her hand at conducting, with some tutelage by Thomas.

Gustavo Dudamel-inspired maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) has decamped to Venice to resuscitate the career of Alessandra (Italian fashion model and actress Monica Bellucci), a Maria Callas-inspired diva known as “la fiamma.” When Hailey shows up in Venice, Rodrigo unintentionally does indeed light the diva’s fire. Puerto Rican soprano Ana Maria Martinez provides Alessandro’s singing voice.

The season takes a few episodes to get going and find its comic groove. Then the guilty pleasure laughs set in. At the baptism of the child of the gay couple (a Symphony musician and the Symphony accountant), Rodrigo turns the lock-out into a lock-in, chaining the church door shut until management and musicians settle the labor dispute. Cynthia steps aside as the musician’s advocate in favor of first chair oboe Betty (Debra Monk). Gloria and Betty hammer out the deal, while hammering down a bottle of single malt.

The series has a poignant episode in which the newly reunited orchestra family goes to prison, playing a concert for the jailbirds at Riker’s Island. The program is all pieces Oliver Messiaen wrote while himself a prisoner of war and first performed for his fellow inmates.

Musical celebrities living and dead make cameo appearances: Joshua Bell, Placido Domingo, Wolfgang Mozart, Sebastian Bach, Peter Tschaikovsky and even Nannerl (Maria Anna Mozart).

Will there be a Season 4? Will Cynthia hook up with Kevin, the NBA star, if both are sidelined by surgery? Will Rodrigo’s new youth orchestra take off? And will Hailey’s conducting career proceed, or will she have Rodrigo’s baby? No word yet from Amazon.

Philip Neches

 

One Response to “Mozart in the Jungle”

  1. EPISODE 7

    “The series has a poignant episode in which the newly reunited orchestra family goes to prison, playing a concert for the jailbirds at Riker’s Island. The program is all pieces Oliver Messiaen wrote while himself a prisoner of war and first performed for his fellow inmates”

    EXTRODINARY…………I’ve been up since 3am watching. This is an absolute must watch

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