The dramatic opening credits sequence of "Game of Thrones" has become one of the most recognizable on television, thanks to the intricate, gear-wound map that comes to life and the sweeping strings of composer Ramin Djawadi’s main title theme. Like many great dramas during this second (or third? Who’s counting?) "Golden Age of Television," the music of "Game of Thrones" has become a character in and of itself, now inspiring one orchestra to hold its own concert inspired by the HBO series.
On February 1 and 2, One World Symphony, located in New York, will perform "Games of Thrones," a concert featuring classical and contemporary music from an array of operas as well as some original compositions.
The idea for the concert came in the fall of 2013 after One World Symphony artistic director Sung Jin Hong binge watched "Breaking Bad" and wrote his own opera inspired by the AMC series. The company then decided to devote the 2014-2015 season to their television inspirations, titling their 14th year "Operasodes," a term coined by Hong to describe an evening of music influenced by a television show’s themes and characters.
"The world we live in is constantly changing, our culture, tastes, interests. If opera and symphony music is going to survive, it needs to adapt to become relevant to contemporary culture," said Adrienne Metzinger, Managing Director of One World Symphony. "Throughout history composers have been inspired by plays, paintings or literature that have captured the public’s imagination at the time. Why should that be any different today?"
The season opened with an evening devoted to FOX’s "New Girl," focusing on pieces of music that featured leading ladies, such as Mozart’s "Le Nozze de Figaro" and symphonic arrangements of popular pop songs by Katy Perry and the "New Girl" herself, Zooey Deschanel. After the "Game of Thrones" symphony in February, the season will wrap up with the premiere of Hong’s "Hannibal," an opera based on the NBC series of the same name.
As for "Game of Thrones," both Metzinger and Hong are fans of the epic George R.R. Martin novel series as well as HBO’s adaptation.
"Issues which captivate audiences have been the same for hundreds of years," said Metzinger. "A woman in love, revenge, infatuation, corruption, seduction, betrayal, power. Operas may come off as big and scary and incomprehensible, but they explore the same range of human emotions as anything you’ll see on TV."
Just read the event’s description: "Siblings who are a little too close – ok a lot too close. A bastard son who gets dragged into his family’s mess. Hot sorceresses and ruthless politicians with appetite for power, seduction, deception and ice battles."
It’s not only an accurate description of the plot of the show, but also of the operas included in the concert, which features Richard Strauss’ "Salomé," Giuseppe Verdi’s "Rigoletto" and Richard Wagner’s "Die Walküre" and more.
"Salomé…What’s not to love about a slightly deranged princess who strips for her stepfather king in order to win the severed head of the mane who rejected her?" said One World soprano Heather Green. As Hong told The Guardian, "Cersei Lanniseter would make Salomé look like a virgin saint."
On "Rigoletto," baritone Fernando Araujo said the aria "Cortigiani, vil razza danata" is, "Rigoletto’s outburst and my personal tribute to Lord Tyrion and all hunchbacks, dwarves, the oppressed and the outcast, alas to all ‘broken things.’"
The evening’s original piece of music is a tribute to fan-favorite Hodor titled "Hodor’s Suite," by composer Justin Lee.
"Although Hodor might come across as simple minded, his loyalty to Bran and House Stark speaks to our most common primal emotions," said Lee. “Hodor’s actions speak louder than his lack of words."
Lee utilizes the double bass throughout the piece, which Lee says is the closest instrument that mimics Hodor’s character and voice. The piece will also include improvisational participation from the audience. (We can only hope that means the repeated yelling of "Hodor!" from the concert’s attendees.)
For more information on One World Symphony and its "Operasodes" season, check out their website here. If you attend the concert, we only have one word of advice: If they start playing "The Rains of Castamere"… RUN.