Green With It

Prodigy versus pious in Amadeus

Faced with a genius rival and battling his own perceived inferiority, Enlightenment composer Antonio Salieri was a therapist's wet dream. Love issues, competitiveness, anger, malicious intent, sneakiness--Salieri had it all. But what do you do if you're up against the one, the only, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, musical prodigy?

Though the tale is familiar to classical music fans, in 1984 the non-classical fans of the world were introduced to this melodic battle between good and evil in the film adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. The irreverently promiscuous and troubled Mozart (channeled by Tom Hulce) creates music so divine it sounds as though angels should perform it. Though Mozart's private life is vulgarity personified, his virtuous music seems meant to come from a man whose middle name means "loved by God." Ironically, Salieri's (F. Murray Abraham) only desire is to write beautiful scores in an effort to praise God, but he falls short.

In his effort to develop Mozart's ability to create pious and beautiful music, Salieri becomes so stricken with revenge that he succeeds only in becoming bitter and malicious, attacking his God for his failure. "From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me only the ability to recognize the incarnation," Salieri says with Shaffer's words. And yet, according to Shaffer's tale, Salieri was Mozart's biggest fan despite his vow to destroy him.

Ryan J. Pointer

Details

Plano Repertory Theatre presents Peter Shaffer's Amadeus from April 7 to May 1 at the Courtyard Theatre, 1509 H Ave., Plano. Tickets are $24 to $38. Call 972-422-7460 or check out www.planorep.org.

In essence, Salieri becomes the hero of mediocre artists. "I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint. Mediocrities everywhere...I absolve you." He champions those who could never understand why someone else was blessed with a gift he could not grasp. It's that good ol' deadly sin--envy--that kept Salieri from succeeding, but was Salieri's sin deadly for Mozart? When the lights go up on Plano Repertory Theatre's production of Amadeus, Salieri is ready to make a confession...and unveil his final composition, "The Death of Mozart" or "Did I Do It?"

 
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