Among the many pluses of television shows being created for streaming services such as Amazon is that the companies aren’t afraid to take chances. A great example can be seen in the second season of the Amazon original series “Mozart in the Jungle,” which debuted this week on the service.
This is a series based on the critically acclaimed memoir by Blair Tindall about conquering the symphony world of New York City. While the networks are making shows about goofy doctors, crime scene investigators and people willing to eat a bug to make money, services such as Amazon are respecting the intelligence of the audience.
And because of that, they are attracting top talent. Classical music luminaries who will make an appearance this year include: conductor Gustavo Dudamel, music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; concert pianist Lang Lang; classical pianist Emanuel Ax; New York Philharmonic music director and conductor Alan Gilbert; and opera composer and conductor Anton Coppola. The cast of “Mozart in the Jungle” includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke, Gretchen Mol, Dermot Mulroney, Esai Morales, Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters.
Peters helps create a link between the fictional symphony world and the one in which she really works when she’s not involved with a Broadway show.
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“I’m familiar only in respect to that I sing with them a lot. And I’m aware that it’s perilous as far as keeping them alive and raising money. And also, their rules, they have a lot of rules,” Peters says. “When you’re in a Broadway show, it’s a family. … And I’m not quite sure how the symphony world compares a lot to the Broadway world in that respect. I’m learning as I go along.”
What Peters will get to learn in the 10-episode second season is that despite months of practice, the orchestra’s growth has stalled since Rodrigo’s triumphant debut as maestro. An upcoming Latin America tour, a potential labor strike and illicit romances hang over the symphony.
Director and executive producer Paul Weitz explains that one big theme in the second season is how to keep a really disparate family together under all sorts of stress.
“Malcolm and Gael’s characters were kind of natural adversaries last year. But where we start this year is Malcolm’s character is kind of a defender of his. But nonetheless, there are things which are driving wedges between them,” Weitz says. “Also, we’re dealing with there’s a labor dispute happening, and as in these cases, some people are firebrands. Some people don’t want to rock the boat.”