Amadeus @ the National Theatre - an extravaganza!
No matter whether you like classical music or not, we have all heard of Mozart. He is one of the most prolific composers who created classical music that was nothing short of divine. His music is so varied showcasing a wide spectrum of different styles in classical music - on the one hand, he's created these sweet sonatas symmetrical in shape and on the other, operas and his requiem fiery, powerful, deep and soul-wrenching. So I did jump at the chance to see the Amadeus theatre production by Michael Longhurst at the National Theatre.
Longhurst's Amadeus is based off Peter Shaffer's play, which gives a highly fictionalised account of the lives of Mozart and his perceived musical rival at the time, Salieri (who's a less well-known Italian composer) who eventually of course, loses the battle. Salieri acted out by Lucian Msamati (apparently ex-cleaner who then became a pirate on Game of Thrones) is the narrator, guiding us through the history of their rivalry in his deathbed confession. Msamati puts on a very gripping performance of Salieri, a narcissistic and deceptive character who I thought seemed bipolar. He would cry out in joy at how incredible one of Mozart's compositions is and then agonise at how God should have blessed him with Mozart's incredible talents. I really enjoyed Msmati conveying these competing emotions of admiration and jealousy – I was left in a somewhat awkward position where I became sympathetic towards Salieri but at the same time, disliked his approach towards competition.
Played by Adam Gillen, Mozart in this show was like a hyperactive child. He had striking pale blond hair, was very easily excitable and throughout most of the show, happy. He was definitely oblivious to Salieri’s jealousy lurking in the background. To think that this yappy kid had such a remarkable talent in producing world-class compositions feels quite contradictory.
Usually when you go to the theatre, the instrumentalists are tucked away. What was different in Longhurst’s Amadeus was that the instrumentalists, in this case, members of the Southbank Sinfonia were central on the stage and were part of the action. As Msamati told his story, members of the Southbank Sinfonia played highlights from Mozart’s bank of masterpieces. Dressed in black, they emerged, played then disappeared, like snippets of Salieri’s memory.
My favourite piece is Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major (Adagio section) which was featured in Amadeus. I just love the dubious and melancholy phrases in this piece - listening to this piece makes me feel like I am listening to a conversation between the piano and the rest of the orchestra. It's sublime.
There was a very memorable part in the show where opera singers and the instrumentalists all came together to perform the highlights of the Magic Flute. The opera singers were all very extravagant and I was immediately transported back to the time I had in Venice when I was watching Italian opera there, where the opera singers all dressed up in very traditional 18th century Venetian outfits.
Overall, I really enjoyed Longhurst’s Amadeus which for me was very magical and informative. If you would like a whistle-stop tour of Mozart’s bank of masterpieces, then this play definitely gives you one! Sadly, Amadeus is no longer shown at the theatre but for sure, if it is shown again in the future, I will be there!