Our intrepid reporters saw Amadeus on May 6, 2012 at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, NY. This is the discussion they had about the performance.
Gail Burns: Larry this one is in your ballpark. I know American musical theatre, but you know classical music. Amadeus has been around since 1979, but I had not seen a production or the 1984 film version. I knew it was about the rumored rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). Salieri was by far the more famous during Mozart’s lifetime and was already the court composer for Austrian Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790) when the two met.
Larry Murray: There is much talk of Amadeus not being an accurate historical play, and the scholars will warn you away from taking it literally. But it does have historical roots in the relationship between the composers. Salieri was a gifted composer, and all you have to do is listen to Cecilia Bartoli recording of many of his arias to see that Salieri was one of the greats. The problem is that when the sun is out, you are blinded by it, and you can’t see the stars. Mozart was the sun that eclipsed Salieri by the sheer force of his brilliance.
Gail: I was impressed with the brilliance of Peter Shaffer’s script. This is a very good play, and sadly we agreed that Jeannine Haas’ direction of this production at Hubbard Hall did not serve it as well as it could have. You never know how the audience and acting spaces will be organized at the Hall from production to production. Haas had the actors on the stage and on a wide swath of floor directly in front with a connecting ramp and staircases. The audience would have been on three sides of the floor space, only at the Sunday matinee we attended there was no one sitting in the side sections so we saw it as a fourth wall production.