Amadeus (Broadway)

Amadeus (Broadway)

AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer opened December 15, 1999 and closed May 14, 2000 at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway after 10 Previews and 173 Performances.

Produced by Kim Poster, PW Productions Ltd., Adam Epstein, SFX Theatrical Group and Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre (Gordon Davidson, Artistic/Producing Director); Produced in association with Back Row Productions and Old Ivy Productions; Associate Producer: Bradley R. Bernstein and Marc Epstein

Directed by Peter Hall; Designed by William Dudley; Lighting Design by Paule Constable; Sound Design by Matt McKenzie; Associate Lighting Design: Tony Simpson; Associate Scenic Design: Nancy Thun.

Starring Cindy Katz (Constanze Weber); Michael Sheen (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart); David Suchet (Antonio Salieri); Jeffrey Bean (Servant); Glynis Bell (Teresa Salieri); Geoffrey Blaisdell (Servant); Jake Broder (One of the “Venticelli”); Charles Janasz (One of the “Venticelli”); Michael Keenan (Baron van Swieten); J.P. Linton (Count Johann Kilian Von Strack); Robert Machray (Salieri’s Cook); Dan Mason (Servant); David McCallum (Emperor Joseph II); Kate Miller (Katherina Cavalieri); Kevin Orton (Servant); John Rainer (Major Domo / Servant); Terence Rigby (Count Orsini-Rosenberg); William Ryall (Salieri’s Valet / Servant) and John Towey (Guiseppe Bonno) with standby Rocco Sisto (Antonio Salieri) and with understudies Jeffrey Bean (Salieri’s Cook, Guiseppe Bonno), Glynis Bell (Katherina Cavalieri), Geoffrey Blaisdell (Major Domo, Salieri’s Valet), Jake Broder (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Charles Janasz (Antonio Salieri), Robert Machray (Baron van Swieten), Dan Mason (One of the “Venticelli”), Kate Miller (Constanze Weber, Teresa Salieri), Kevin Orton (One of the “Venticelli”), John Rainer (Count Orsini-Rosenberg), Brian Rardin (Servant), William Ryall (Count Johann Kilian Von Strack) and John Towey (Joseph II)

General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.; Company Manager: L.A. Glassburn; Production Stage Manager: Susie Cordon; Production Manager: Peter Fulbright; Stage Manager: Allison Sommers; Assistant Stage Manager: Brian Rardin; Technical Supervisor: Tech Production Services, Inc., Elliot Bertoni and Eric Hansen; U.K. Casting: Gillian Diamond; U.S. Casting: Pat McCorkle; U.K. Marketing: A. K. A. Ltd.; U.S. Marketing: The Nancy Richards Group; Online Marketing: Toby Simkin / Theatre.com Inc.; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown.

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The play explored the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, the court composer for the Emperor of Austria in the late eighteen century.

Amadeus begins in 1823 on the day that the elderly Salieri believes will be his last. Once a composer in the Austrian court of Emperor Joseph ll, his musical compositions have now been branded as mediocre and he is all but forgotten. Addressing the audience as “Ghosts of the Future,” he narrates and reenacts his relationship to Mozart. Many years earlier, Salieri recognized the genius of the young Mozart, who arrives at the court as a famous musical prodigy. Envy burns in the once pious Salieri, who renounces God and sets out to completely destroy his rival.

Amadeus
by Peter Shaffer

Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter HallBroadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall Broadway AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer Starring Michael Sheen & David Suchet. Directed by Peter Hall

Synopsis

Beginning in the streets of Vienna in 1823 where rumors are flying that old man Salieri (once the famed director of the Italian opera and a favorite of Emperor Joseph II) has confessed to murdering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri appears in his room and tells us, the audience, that he indeed poisoned Mozart, vowing to tell us the whole story.

With that, we race backward in time to 1781, right before Mozart and Salieri meet. A young Salieri is a devout Catholic who has vowed to dedicate his life to composing music in the name of God. He is a favorite of the Royal Court and feels stable in his job and reputation until he hears the name Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart is on everyone’s minds and lips around Vienna, and Salieri becomes anxious to meet this young composer who has been known as a musical genius since childhood. Salieri finally meets this acclaimed Mozart and, to his horror, Mozart turns out to be a perverted, immature, vulgar young man. However, his music is indeed the thing of myths…its genius pierces through to the very soul of Salieri, who can’t understand how this petulant young man received the musical gift that he has been working towards his whole life.

Right then and there, Salieri swears off God and religion and decides to dedicate himself, instead, to ruining Mozart’s career.

Along the way, he not only ruins Mozart’s career, but also his life, all while hiding behind a mask of friendliness and concern for the young artist.

We watch Salieri poison Mozart’s reputation which eventually leads to his destruction and death.

A highly fictionalized account of the relationship between these two real life composers, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus takes us on a wild ride through the trials and tribulations of genius, jealousy and revenge.

Major Characters

  • Antonio Salieri
    In old age, Salieri attempts to kill himself; he fails, and ends up in an asylum. In the asylum, Salieri begins a narrative in which he describes his involvement in Mozart’s death, and the motives behind his actions. Salieri wonders why God gives a vulgar man like Mozart exceptional skills, yet makes him, a pious man, mediocre.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Mozart is a genius, but an infantile man. He spends beyond his means, parties too much, and defies authoritative figures. These negative traits all contribute to Mozart’s downfall, but what truly hurts Mozart is his arrogance. His arrogance turns Salieri, who could have been a powerful ally, into an enemy. Mozart finds any and every opportunity to insult and humiliate Salieri. As a result, Salieri begins to see Mozart as an instrument that God uses to mock him.
  • Constanze Weber (Mozart’s wife)
    She loves Mozart, but she fails to reign in his spending and instead often participates in frivolities alongside him. Constanze also has a bad relationship with Salieri. The relationship sours over a trick Salieri plays on her: he tells her that he will consider Mozart’s application to tutor the emperor’s niece if she sleeps with him; yet when she visits him in the evening to perform the deed, he scolds her and kicks her out.
  • Emperor Joseph II of Austria
    He is a very influential figure when it comes to the success of an opera, despite not being a music connoisseur. Three yawns from him, and an opera shuts down on the same night on which it premieres. He commissions Mozart for work. Throughout Mozart’s stay in Vienna, the emperor lifts certain bans in order to give Mozart more artistic liberties. Despite these accommodations, Mozart still challenges him — especially when he criticizes Mozart’s opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, by saying that it has too many notes.
  • Count Johann Kilian Von Strack (Groom of the Imperial Chamber)
    He is the emperor’s chamberlain. Although he has no hostilities towards Mozart, he does reprimand Mozart when Mozart complains about having to apply for the opportunity to teach the emperor’s niece instead of automatically receiving the position.
  • Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg (Director of the Imperial Opera)
    He is one of Emperor Joseph II’s musical advisors. He advises the Emperor against both commissioning Mozart to create an opera and having that opera be composed in German, but the Emperor goes against his suggestions. Count Orsini-Rosenberg becomes Salieri’s ally in his attempts to sabotage Mozart.
  • Baron Gottfried Van Swieten (Prefect of the Imperial Library)
    He is the imperial librarian for the Emperor’s court. Unlike Count Orsini-Rosenberg and Kapellmeister Bonno, he champions Mozart. He is one of the few people in attendance at Mozart’s funeral.
  • Katherina Cavelieri (Salieri’s pupil)
    She is an opera singer in Vienna, and is one of Salieri’s students. Her role is minor, but her presence contributes to Salieri’s negative feelings towards Mozart. Although Salieri is chaste, he still lusts after Katherina, who does not know his feelings or return them. When Katherina stars in Mozart’s German opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, and Salieri finds out that she also slept with Mozart, his desire for revenge against Mozart increases.
  • Venticelli #1Venticelli #2 (‘Little Winds’)
    Salieri has achieved some fame as a court musician in Vienna, and to help maintain this stature, he relies on his paid gossips the Venticelli, or “Little Winds,” purveyors of information, gossip and rumors, to keep him apprised of the happenings in the city. They function as a chorus informing the audience — as well as Salieri — of what cannot be shown on stage directly.
  • Teresa Salieri
    Salieri remains faithful to his tepid wife, Teresa, despite his intense lust for his prized pupil, the beautiful soprano Katherina Cavalieri.
  • Guiseppe Bonno
    He is one of Emperor Joseph II’s musical advisors. He sides with Count Orsini-Rosenberg on all issues. He also works with Salieri to sabotage Mozart’s endeavors.
  • Major-Domo

Historical Context of Mozart

  • In the twentieth century, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s reputation grew considerably.
  • His works, which include a variety of forms from chamber music to symphonies and operas, have been heralded for their classical grace, technical perfection, and melodic beauty.
  • Shaffer’s play, Amadeus, records several details of Mozart’s life.
  • Mozart was a child prodigy who started composing before he was five.
  • A year later, his father began taking him and his talented sister to play for the aristocracy in Europe.
  • In 1781, he relocated to Vienna and married Constanze Weber against his father’s wishes.
  • The newlyweds had financial difficulties when Mozart could not find suitable employment.
  • While his work was often applauded during his lifetime, audiences were sometimes critical of the demands his innovations placed on them.
  • He also clashed with the emperor’s court over issues of artistic freedom.
  • Eventually, he was appointed chamber musician and court composer to Joseph II, but the paltry salary that he earned did not ease his financial troubles.
  • He gained public acclaim for The Magic Flute, but the work’s references to the secret rituals of the Freemasons lost him the support of one of its most ardent defenders, Baron Van Swieten.
  • Mozart worked on his final piece, the Requiem Mass, with the sense that it would be played at his own funeral.
  • He died, however, before he could complete it and was buried, unceremoniously, in an unmarked, mass grave.

The Referenced Mozart Musical Works

Requiem (death mass)
A musical composition performed at a funeral to honor the deceased. Salieri commissions Mozart to write a Requiem, and he plans on performing this Requiem at Mozart’s funeral after killing Mozart.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi8vJ_lMxQI

Abduction from the Seraglio (1782)
An opera with dialogue in German. The plot concerns the hero Belmonte’s attempts to rescue his love Konstanze from the seraglio (harem) of the Pasha Selim.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAPYT7Lk2bc

Don Giovanni (1787)
An opera in Italian with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. A blend of comedy, supernatural, and melodrama, it is based on the Spanish tales of the legendary lover, Don Juan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJnJjpMdT3Y

Così Fan Tutti (1790)
A comic opera in Italian with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The title is sometimes rendered in English as “Women are Like That.” There is some evidence that Salieri also had attempted to set the libretto to music, but abandoned it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBXy9N3Frkk

The Marriage of Figaro (1786)
A comic opera in Italian with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais. The plot concerns servants Figaro and Susanna foiling Count Almaviva’s attempts to seduce Susanna. In Amadeus, Mozart transforms Salieri’s welcome march into the aria “Non piu andrai” from this opera.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1-FKyOTvto

The Magic Flute (1791)
An opera in German, in the singspiel style with both singing and dialogue. It is a fantasy in which hero Prince Tamino, along with comic sidekick Papageno undergoes a series of tests to win the hand of Pamina. They must oppose the evil Queen of the Night, Pamina’s mother. The Magic Flute uses veiled references to rites of the Freemasons. “The Queen of the Night’s” aria is one of the world’s most familiar pieces of vocal music.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuBeBjqKSGQ


Music by Salieri 

Piano Concerto in B Flat Adagio:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv9ooDrxTm8

Famed mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli talks about Salieri:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsNomFF55Kk

For Amadeus, Peter Shaffer commissioned a march for Salieri to play as a welcome for Mozart, who creates a now-famous variation on it “Non piu andrai” Here’s a quick comparison of the two:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGCcVnbzv8U

17 years earlier, in 1982, I was ASM for the Queensland Theatre Company production, a spectacular production.

Queensland Theatre Company Amadeus QTC

My COVID-19 Parodies of AMADEUS in April 2020 and May 2022 in Shanghai Lockdown 

Amadeus COVID 19 Shanghai 2022 reimagined Poster

Parody...-AnyDayOus-(Re-imagined-Poster)

See over 100 more of my Broadway Parodies or my 75 Shanghai Lockdown parodies.

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