The contrasting fortunes of two musicians is told in the passionate tale Amadeus, a play written by Peter Schaffer which gives a highly fictionalised account of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.
And a presentation of the play to be performed next month, and featuring some of Mozart’s most sublime music, will see all profits donated to Child Bereavement UK based at Saunderton.
In Amadeus, Salieri wrestles with the question of how a just God can bestow the gift of genius on a foul mouthed child like Mozart, while giving a devout man like Salieri only enough talent to recognise his own mediocrity, as he seeks to destroy his hated rival.
First performed in 1979, Amadeus was inspired by a short 1830 play by Alexander Pushkin called Mozart and Salieri. Schaffer’s version won a Tony Award in 1981 and he adapted his theatrical script for the 1984 Academy Award winning film of the same name.
Shaffer used artistic license in his portrayals of both Mozart and Salieri. Documentary evidence suggests that there was some antipathy between the two men, but the idea that Salieri was the instigator of Mozart’s demise is not taken seriously by scholars of the men’s lives and careers. While historically there may have been actual rivalry and tension between Mozart and Salieri, there is also evidence that they enjoyed a relationship marked by mutual respect.
Amadeus opens in 1823 Vienna, Salieri is now 73 years old and speaking directly to the audience he claims to have murdered Mozart. The action then flashes back to 1781, Salieri has not met yet Mozart but has heard of him and his music. He greatly admires Mozart’s compositions, and is excited about the chance to meet him at a salon where some of Mozart’s compostitions will be played.
But when Salieri finally encounters Mozart he is deeply disappointed to find Mozart lacks the grace and charm of his compositions, and he cannot reconcile Mozart’s boorish behaviour with the genius that God has inexplicably bestowed upon him. Having been a devout Catholic all his life, Salieri cannot believe that God would choose Mozart over him for such a gift. Salieri then renounces God and vows to do everything in his power to destroy Mozart as a way of getting back at his Creator.
The play is presented as a joint production by Fourways Theatre Company and The Garden Players at the Lancaster Theatre in the grounds of Wycombe Abbey girls school in High Wycombe. Performances take place at 7.45pm on Thursday February 18, Friday 19 and Saturday 20.
Tickets cost £14, concessions £12, and are available now from 01494 522722 or book online at www.fourways.org.uk or www.thegardenplayersweb.co.uk