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'Mozart in the Jungle' is Back and It's Grand
December 9, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, previously one of the coolest shows around, remains one of the coolest shows around.

Mozart’s third season drops Friday on the streaming service Amazon Prime and it’s as breezy and exhilarating as the courtyards of Venice, where the first episodes of the season partly unfold.

It seems that the musicians of the New York Symphony Orchestra, centerpiece of the show, remain on strike, seeking among other things a decent pension plan.

So the orchestra’s passionate and frustrated conductor Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) has bolted to Italy to conduct the comeback performance of Alessandra (Monica Bellucci), a world-famous opera singer he has loved since he was a young muchacho.

She’s also, naturally, a world-class diva. She hasn’t sung in four years, during which time she seems to have been storing every passing neurosis.

Rodrigo will spend much of the season’s 10 episodes coaxing her back, and mining some first-rate comedy along the way. It’s subtle situational comedy in the best sense, set against the backdrop of Venice with two well-intended yet highly mercurial personalities.

The further comic turn comes when Rodrigo suggests Alessandra perform an original piece, not just her best-known favorites. They end up selecting an aria from a new opera based on the story of Amy Fisher, the infamous “Long Island Lolita.”


And that’s just a subplot, though it gets a lot of screen time, which means Venice gets a lot of screen time, which is a good decision.

By an amazing coincidence, we also know someone else who’s visiting Venice at this precise moment: Hailey (Lola Kirke), the aspiring young oboist around whose arrival in New York the show has largely revolved.

At loose ends because of the orchestra strike, Hailey has taken a gig with the Andrew Walsh Ensemble. Andrew, played with a brilliant straight face by Dermot Mulroney, is a self-glorifying star cellist who had a brief fling with Hailey.

They’re on tour in Venice, only something happens between Hailey and Andrew. The moral of this particular story is not to trust inexpensive shellfish, but the consequence is that Rodrigo and Alessandra swoop in to rescue Hailey.

That part of the story quickly sprouts another subplot, at the same time things are getting more complicated back in New York.

Gloria (Bernadette Peters), the head of the orchestra, is trying everything she can think of to end the strike, short of accommodating the musicians’ demands.

She also faces a potential crisis in her relationship with the orchestra’s former long-time conductor Thomas (Malcolm McDowell) – specifically, that people might find out about it.

Did we mention that Gloria and Thomas also travel to Venice, where Thomas will preview some of the new work he’s been composing since he lost his orchestra gig?

As the season moves along, of course, we realize neither our characters nor we viewers can linger in Venice forever. So the action will shift back to New York.

And that’s okay, too, since Rodrigo is still as mischievous as ever, and Hailey is still looking for her place in the world, and many of the orchestra members are interesting in their own right.

It’s probably worth reiterating that much of Mozart in the Jungle isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. It’s dealing with serious human problems and dramas. It just finds the lightening touch in them, the moments and the interludes that keep the tougher stuff bearable.

It’s still cool.

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Dan Conti
Watching the new season of this excellent show cost me money.

At some point in one of the episodes they began playing music from Mozart's "The Magic Flute" which reminded me of the current limited run of this opera at the Met. of course I had to buy tickets! But I digress!

Very well done, fine performances, and exquisite music will be found in Mozart in the Jungle, and Mozart at the Met!
Dec 16, 2016   |  Reply
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