Alice Jones' Arts Diary

New York's 'hippest orchestra' to create Breaking Bad opera

Artisitic director Sung Jin Hong says he'd love Bryan Cranston to get involved

Don Giovanni, Simon Boccanegra… Walt White. It had to happen – Breaking Bad is to be reborn as an opera, which will open in New York next year. Breaking Bad – Ozymandias will be composed by Sung Jin Hong the artistic director of One World Symphony, billed “New York’s hippest orchestra”, and will draw parallels with Shelley’s famous poem, which was used as the title of a seminal episode in the fifth series.

“Similar to the downfall of Ozymandias, Walt White with all his brilliance and power does not foresee his inevitable destruction and demise of all those that surround him,” Hong tells me. “Shelley’s Ozymandias reminds us that human life and materialistic values are temporary and are bound to end. All are subject to the laws of time. How about the classics - works by Beethoven and Van Gogh? Sometime in the future, will we possibly consider Breaking Bad, a contemporary classic of Greek or Shakespearean magnitude?”

Hong has previously composed work inspired by Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist and Sylvia Plath. The Breaking Bad mini-opera is still in its earliest stages and Hong has invited fans to make suggestions. At this stage, he is not planning to incorporate the theme music of Dave Porter into his score. “However, I love what he did to serve the drama during all five seasons. As the characters evolved and narratives unfolded, his music did too. During the final season his music became darker, richer, and more tragic, with a more diverse palette of sonorities, without the sentimentality.”

The hero will be either Ozymandias or Walt White, or potentially both, adds Hong. “I'm planning to explore all the possibilities in casting the appropriate artists. Opera has been changing and has been influenced by contemporary culture. So, Walter White's ‘opera voice’ may fuse diverse musical styles. Imagine if Bryan Cranston is available and interested to play the lead? I would be honoured to compose and work with the inspiring artist. Would he be open to Sprechgesang (speech-singing)?”

Now there’s a question.

Mother Lowry

The Lowry revolution continues. As Tate Britain’s popular exhibition closes, a new play is set to open in the West End. Mrs Lowry and Son by Martyn Hesford will explore the difficult relationship between the artist and his mother and has been backed by Lowry fan Ian McKellen and David Hare, among others, the playwright said. 

“I’ve been trying to get interest in a screenplay for 15 years”, says Hesford, who was born in Salford. “People said he’s unsexy or too old-fashioned. Now the world has gone mad for him.” Hesford, whose Kenneth Williams biopic, Fantabulosa!, starring Michael Sheen was nominated for a BAFTA was working on another play at Hampstead Theatre when his unfinished Lowry script was picked up and fast-tracked onto the stage in the wake of Lowry’s re-evaluation by the Tate.

In the two-hander, which opens at Trafalgar Studios on 30 October, Lowry (played by Michael Begley) is 47 and working as a rent collector by day, caring for his demanding, invalid mother (June Watson) by night and trying to paint in what little spare time remains. “She was bed-ridden for 10 years. The only time he could paint was when she was asleep. It was a dysfunctional love”, says Hesford. “He wanted so much for his mother to enjoy his paintings but to her they were the ugliest thing in the world. Relatives would visit and offer her a few shillings for one of them and she’d say, ‘Just take it’. She would be astounded by his success today.” 

Jennifer Rubell

The mania of Frieze can get a bit much, so thank goodness for the New York artist Jennifer Rubell who is offering weary art-lovers a place to snuggle up and feel loved. The sculptor has produced an 8m-long fibreglass replica of her own womb and is “actively encouraging” visitors to Stephen Friedman Gallery’s stand at the London art fair to climb inside. Rubell made the sculpture when she was 8 months pregnant from scans of her naked body, leaving a void for art-lovers where her baby should be.

Rubell has previously installed a waxwork of Prince William in the window of the gallery and invited visitors to pose as Kate Middleton on its arm. Portrait of the Artist is a gesture of love to her unknown audience, she says: “I will nurture you, I will sacrifice all for you, I will do everything in my power on this Earth to give you whatever it is you are looking for. I will love you, whoever you are, whenever you come, whatever you think of me, forever.”

It is on sale for US$200,000, a gallery spokesperson adds.

Nina Stibbe

Next month, Penguin publishes the debut book by Nina Stibbe, a former commissioning editor at Routledge. Love, Nina, A Nanny Writes Home consists of youthful letters written by Stibbe to her sister. Why read them? Well, aged 20, Stibbe moved to London from Leicestershire to work as nanny to the two sons of Mary Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books, and Stephen Frears. Deborah Moggach, Jonathan Miller and Michael Frayn were all part of the neighbourhood gang. And Alan Bennett lived next door, regularly dropping in to offer cooking advice.

“I didn’t even think they were that important or grand”, Stibbe tells The Bookseller. “Where I’m from really posh people didn’t live in a terraced house… I remember phoning my mother and saying, ‘Oh, Alan Bennett came for tea; I think he’s some sort of playwright.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing