Amadeus

Definition

Theater

  • Peter Shaffer's hit play about the life and deathof Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It opened in 1979 at the Olivier Theatrein a production directed by Peter Hall, transferring to Her Majesty'sTheatre in 1981. The play also took Broadway by storm in 1980. TheSunday Times, however, called it "tripe". Simon Callowcreated the role of Mozart, who is presented as a uniquely giftedbuffoon. The intense role of Salieri, his conscientious but mediocrerival, was played by Paul Scofield at the Olivier, Frank Finlay atHer Majesty's, and Ian McKellen in New York. A 1983 film version directedby Miloš Forman won eight Oscars, including Best Picture andBest actor (Murray Abraham as Salieri).

    The work takes its central idea from Pushkin's play Mozartand Salieri, which suggested that Mozart was poisoned by his rival.In Shaffer's play Mozart goes into a physical and moral decline asSalieri undermines his position at the Austrian court and becomessenior composer. Salieri also attempts to drive the more gifted composermad by posing as the ghost of his dead father. Years later Salierihimself goes mad and writes a confession to the murder of Mozart.

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