Saturday, 5 November 2016

Amadeus: An evening with Wolfgang and Antonio

I remember seeing the film 'Amadeus' years ago, and enjoying it, and I've also seen and enjoyed 'Equus', another Peter Schaffer play, so when I saw that the National Theatre was reviving 'Amadeus' I couldn't resist.

I went on Saturday, and have to say that it is  very good.  

The undoubted star of the show is Lucien Msamati, as Antonio Salieri. He opens the play by addressing the audience directly, 'conjuring' the ghosts of the distant future to witness his despair, before stepping back into the past, and then narrates the story, which works surprisingly well.

Adam Gillen as Mozart: photo from NT website

Mozart is played by Adam Gillen, and is deeply annoying (as he should be), with an inane laugh, and horrible lack of awareness of appropriate behaviour! In any other role his behaviour would have to be described as overacting, but in this one it is excusable. 

Gillen gave him a certain, slightly pathetic appeal at times, as well.

Mozart & Salieri - photo from theatre website
In this production, the music is supplied live by the Southbank Sinfonia, which worked very well indeed. I have great admiration for the musicians who were able to provide excerpts of Mozart opera, and original music, while contending with the distraction of the flamboyant performances, including having Gillen, as Mozart, 'conducting' some of the performances. I assume that Mr Gillen is not a conductor!

But getting to hear good musicians and singers performing pieces such as the Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute was wonderful.

Msamati and Gillen are the key performers, but there's a strong supporting cast.  Tom Edden, as the po-faced and  unimaginative Emperor Joseph II.

Definitely worth seeing. It is on at the National Theatre until February (and possibly beyond) but many performances are sold out. It's being broadcast as an NTLive show, I think on 2nd February. I may well go, to see it again!

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