Mad, musical Mozart takes over the Phoenix stage

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On Wednesday, March 11, UVic’s theatre department presented the second preview night of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. The Department of Theatre’s Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts students tell the tragic tale of musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and court composer Antonio Salieri. It is a tale of jealousy, genius, and the debilitating power of devout belief.

Salieri, a refined and prestigious Italian court composer, questions his own talent the day Mozart walks into his life. Upon first hearing Mozart’s music, Salieri hears God as if he is standing face-to-face with the Creator. The talents of Mozart far surpass Salieri’s, therefore pushing Salieri to turn against God.

Aidan Correia as Mozart stars in Amadeus, running until March 21 at UVic's Phoenix Theatre. Photo by David Lowes (provided)

Aidan Correia as Mozart stars in Amadeus, running until March 21 at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre. Photo by David Lowes (provided)

Salieri believes Mozart is a conduit of God and is determined to destroy Mozart’s reputation. A fool with no understanding of social cues, incessantly spoiled from birth, Mozart creates incomprehensible works of art, as if seeming to reincarnate the divine.

Set in the 18th century, the play’s simple set design uses chairs and furniture to create effective scenes. A piano sat at stage right against a wall paralleling another, creating a tunnel vision effect. Salieri, a self-proclaimed glutton, has decadent treats in nearly every scene.

The costumes matched the era, pairing shoes with bows and colourful fabrics pinched and gathered upon the female actors. Golden lights flooded the stage signifying the Enlightenment era. Music played softly in the background when sheet music was read or actors “played” the piano.

Characters spoke loosely in Italian, German, and French throughout the two and a half hour play, which had a 15-minute intermission. At times I felt I was missing out on a great joke, discouraged I couldn’t understand Italian better. 

The two male leads, Salieri and Mozart, worked brilliantly together, allowing the audience to feel sympathy for both characters. Aidan Correia embodies Mozart’s manic, outspoken behaviour, and Jenson Kerr exemplifies Salier, jealous and maniacal. Kerr keeps the play in motion with constant asides contrasting Correia’s wild behaviour.

Although the play is tragic, slapstick scenes appear throughout, allowing humour to alleviate pressure from the heavy plot. One scene has Correia chasing his love interest as they spank one another with childish delight. Additionally, scatological jokes are made as Mozart enjoyed bathroom humour more openly than others.

Salieri losing his faith because of Mozart’s musical genius is the central theme that carries the story to the end. It was comforting to see two famous and prestigious men succumb to their own fears and desires because of their humanity.

The Phoenix Theatre presents Amadeus 8:00 p.m., Mon.–Sat., with a matinee at 2 p.m. on March 21. Tickets range from $14–$24, all weekend shows are $24. For more information and to buy tickets online visit finearts.uvic.ca

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