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“Amadeus” the Play by Peter Shaffer Report

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2021

Introduction

This paper will discuss the online performance of Amadeus, the play written by Peter Shaffer. This work focuses on the relations between two famous composers, Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In particular, it shows how Salieri becomes overwhelmed with envy for Mozart’s prodigious talent. His actions are driven by the desire to destroy the life of this young musician. Salieri eventually succeeds in achieving this goal; however, this result does not bring him happiness. Much attention should also be paid to Constanze, Mozart’s wife; this woman endures intense emotional suffering knowing that the physical and emotional health of her husband is deteriorating.

A Scene from Part One

This performance includes various scenes that can draw viewers’ attention; one of them depicts the conversation during which Mozart discusses Salieri’s work and suggests ways for improving it. The action takes place in a sparsely furnished room in which there are only several props. In this case, one should speak about such objects as a piano, a carpet, and a chair with a high back. The foreground of the room is brightly lit while the background is very dark. At this point, there are no other characters apart from Mozart and Salieri.

The actors are dressed after the fashion popular among European courtiers in the eighteenth century. Each of them wears a wig, a waistcoat, and breaches. Mozart has heard Salieri’s composition once; however, he can play it without notes. He immediately makes a comment suggesting that this composition can be improved. In particular, he says, “It doesn’t really work, that fourth, does it? Let’s try the third above…why don’t you try a variation?” (Shaffer, n. d. a). Salieri is utterly astonished by Mozart’s talent, but he only says that he is supposed to leave. Salieri understands that Mozart is a very gifted composer; however, this realization depresses him.

A Scene from Part Two

There is another scene that can throw light on the relations between the major characters. For example, one can consider the moment when Salieri comes to Mozart’s house and sees that his rival is already on the verge of dying. At this moment, there are only two characters in the room. The conversation takes place in a spacious room that has almost no furniture. Among the visible props, one can distinguish a carved wooden table, several chairs, and a piano. Only the foreground of the stage is lit, while the background remains in the dark. Salieri is dressed in a black overcoat and breaches; like in many other scenes, he wears a wig. In his turn, Mozart wears baggy trousers, a white undershirt, and a waistcoat; he has put on no wig.

Salieri makes a statement that fully reflects the dangerous impacts of envy. He says, “In ten years of unrelenting spite, I had destroyed myself!” (Shaffer, n. d. b). In particular, Salieri implies that envy has ruined his life. Thus, Mozart’s miseries do not bring him any joy. In his turn, Mozart believes that Salieri is just drunk; it does not occur to him that his fellow composer could try to destroy his life and career. One should keep in mind that there is no historical evidence indicating Salieri’s hatred against Mozart (Spielvogel, 2014). More likely, this play is based on a historical anecdote that is not supported in any way (Lam, Raphael, & Weber, 2018). This is one of the details that should be considered by readers and viewers.

Overall Impression

This play has produced a strong impression on me because it eloquently illustrates the way in which an individual can be overwhelmed by his/her obsessions. The main tragedy of Salieri is that in many cases, his envy prevents him from simply enjoying the music created by a talented person. The most enjoyable aspect of this performance is that it incorporates some of Mozart’s compositions such as Requiem. To a great extent, it highlights the genius of this composer.

References

Lam, C., Raphael, J., & Weber, M. (Eds.). (2018). Disassembling the celebrity figure: Credibility and the incredible. Leiden, Netherlands: BRILL

Shaffer, P. (n. d. a). [Video File]. Web.

Shaffer, P. (n. d. b). . [Video File]. Web.

Spielvogel, J. (2014). Western civilization: Volume B: 1300-1815 (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "“Amadeus” the Play by Peter Shaffer." June 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/amadeus-the-play-by-peter-shaffer/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '“Amadeus” the Play by Peter Shaffer'. 18 June.

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