'Mozart in the Jungle': What it gets right and wrong about classical music

What @MITJAmazon gets right and wrong about classical music

"Mozart in the Jungle," Amazon's new comedy series set in the world of a fictional symphony orchestra, has officially been picked up for a second season, the online company announced Wednesday.

The first season of the satirical show, which debuted in January, introduced Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), a hot young conductor who is taking over as the music director of a prestigious New York orchestra.

Much has been made over Rodrigo's resemblance to conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Both hail from Latin America, shot to international fame in their 20s and are so renowned that they are often referred to by their first name alone.  

Series: Inside the L.A. Philharmonic

"Mozart," which counts Roman Coppola, Paul Weitz and Jason Schwartzman among its creative team, is part of Amazon's first batch of original series, which also includes "Transparent" and "Bosch." ("Transparent" has already been renewed for another season.)

The second season of "Mozart" is expected to debut in 2016.

The creators of the series told The Times they went to great lengths to research the world of classical music. But like most satires, the series also takes ample creative liberty. Here's a select list of what "Mozart" gets right and wrong about the rarefied world of symphony orchestras.


-- Professional backbiting: The musicians portrayed in the series are often competitive and ruthless. They stab each other in the back and smile when doing so. It's a largely accurate portrayal of a profession where jobs that pay a livable wage are growing scarcer by the year.

-- Youth appeal: In the first episode, Rodrigo is shown replacing the orchestra's much older music director (Malcolm McDowell). An emphasis on youth has become pervasive in the world of major symphonies, with more orchestras hiring young, photogenic conductors.

-- Cultivating wealthy patrons: The orchestra chairwoman, played by Bernadette Peters, is constantly rubbing elbows with members of high society in the hopes of scoring a big check. In reality, major orchestras in the U.S. are nonprofits and depend heavily on private donations to stay afloat. 

-- "Hear the hair": A marketing campaign emphasizing Rodgrio's curly hair seems modeled after the L.A. Philharmonic's promotional campaign for Dudamel. 

-- Personal assistants: Like Hollywood celebrities, A-list conductors are attended to by personal assistants who cater to their every need and are constantly on call. In the series, Rodrigo's P.A. is Hailey ("Hyly!"), a young oboist played by Lola Kirke.  


-- Freelance gigs: In the first season, Cynthia, a symphony cellist played by Saffron Burrows, moonlights as a pit musician for a spectacularly awful rock musical on Broadway. It's doubtful that a cellist of her caliber and pay grade would need the freelance work (or have the time to take it on).

--  Rodrigo's personal life: In the series, Rodrigo seems to have a lot of free time to go jogging, strike up impromptu jam sessions and shadow his crazy French wife. In the real world, a conductor of his stature would have his days micro-managed by a team of agents, publicists and orchestra personnel. He would also spend a great amount of time abroad conducting other orchestras, much like the real Dudamel does.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT   

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