Amadeus Audience Guide 2024-02-08T23:18:58+00:00

It’s 1823, and a cacophony of scandalous whispers echo through the streets of Vienna. Renowned Italian composer Antonio Salieri flees from claims of murder but has nowhere to hide. While chasing fame and fortune, we learn how Salieri becomes obsessed with the rowdy young prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who is determined to make a splash. A deadly game of envy, deceit, and revenge ensues. Who will prevail? The villainous veteran or the worshipped wunderkind?

Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Play, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1985, musical history is enlivened and re-imagined in Peter Shaffer’s award-winning parable about malice, madness, and the love of music.

Amadeus is set in 18th century Vienna but the story can take place anywhere since the themes are timeless. Audiences at any time or place can relate to the overarching theme of the 7 deadly sins. Those being pride, greed, gluttony, lust, wrath, envy, and sloth. The story also shows how personal jealousy can lead to one’s self destruction and the destruction of those around them.

Court composer and later imperial kapellmeister (the leader or conductor of an orchestra or choir) to Joseph II, emperor of Austria, Salieri is ambitious and has promised to dedicate his life and talents to God in return for fame as a composer. He found success in the emperor’s court and is part of a faction of Italians who advise the emperor on cultural matters. However, once Mozart arrives on the scene and Salieri hears his exquisite work, he feels betrayed by God and lets his feelings of mediocrity, jealousy, and bitterness consume him. He vows to destroy Mozart as way to get back at God.

A child prodigy from Salzburg, Austria, and a genius composer, Mozart is seeking a position in the emperor’s court. He is extravagant, arrogant, juvenile, foul-mouthed, and impulsive in social and political situations, but creates unbelievably remarkable music. He eventually loses support in court, and, unable to secure a steady income, becomes a poverty-stricken alcoholic and struggles to survive. But he always remains true to his music.

Mozart’s wife whom he married against his father’s wishes, Weber loves and supports him in his work through every humiliation and hardship. Though both are cavalier and juvenile, she is more responsible and practical and even willing to sacrifice herself for him.

Gossips who work for Salieri and provide him with information from around Vienna on Mozart’s private affairs.


A Note from Director Melody Deatherage
, the play, is not really history, but a fictional account offering a provocative view of the timeless theme of human nature and conflict; the conflict within ourselves when faced with exceptional talent in others, personal temptations, and excess. We see this played out today in business and entertainment, personal relationships, politics. Playwright Peter Shaffer uses the relationship between Salieri and Mozart to illustrate how professional and personal jealousy corrupts and destroys. Salieri cannot believe his God would bestow such musical genius on a creature like Mozart, to the point he plots to destroy the man and legacy. We know that Mozart’s musical legacy long outlived them both, but that’s another story. Bear witness to Salieri’s self-destruction as he presents his last composition, “The Death of Mozart, or, Did I Do It?”

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Archival Photos by Marlee Melinda Andrews

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