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5.0 1
by Peter Shaffer

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0riginating at the National Theatre of Great Britain, Amadeus was the recipient of both the Evening Standard Drama Award and the Theatre Critics Award. In the United States, the play won the coveted Tony Award and went on to become a critically acclaimed major motion picture winning eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

Now, this extraordinary work about


0riginating at the National Theatre of Great Britain, Amadeus was the recipient of both the Evening Standard Drama Award and the Theatre Critics Award. In the United States, the play won the coveted Tony Award and went on to become a critically acclaimed major motion picture winning eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

Now, this extraordinary work about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is available with a new preface by Peter Shaffer and a new introduction by the director of the 1998 Broadway revival, Sir Peter Hall. Amadeus is a must-have for classical music buffs, theatre lovers, and aficionados of historical fiction.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.36(d)

Read an Excerpt



Savage whispers fill the theater. We can distinguish nothing at first from this snakelike hissing save the word Salieri! repeated here, there and everywhere around the theater. Also, the barely distinguishable word

The whispers overlap and increase in volume, slashing the air with wicked intensity. Then the light grows Upstage to reveal the silhouettes of men and women dressed in the top hats and skirts of the early nineteenth century--CITIZENS OF VIENNA, all crowded together in the Light Box, and uttering their scandal. ]

WHISPERERS: Salieri! . . . Salieri! . . . Salieri!
[Upstage, in a wheelchair, with his back to us, sits an old man. We can just see, as the light grows w little brighter, the top of his head, encased in an old red cap, and perhaps the shawl wrapped around his shoulders. ]
Salieri! . . . Salieri! . . . Salieri!
[Two middle-aged gentlemen hurry in from either side, also wearing the long cloaks and tall hats of the period. These are the two
VENTICELLI: purveyors of fact, rumor and gossip throughout the play. They speak rapidly--in this first appearance extremely rapidly--so that the scene has the air of a fast and dreadful overture. Sometimes they speak to each other, sometimes to us--but always with the urgency of men who have ever been first with the news.

VENTICELLO 1: I don't believe it.

VENTICELLO 2: I don't believe it.

V.1: I don't believe it.

V.2: I don't believe it.


V.1: They say.

V.2: I hear.

V.1: I hear.

V.2: They say.

V.1: & V.2: I don't believe it!


V.1: The whole city is talking.

V.2: You hear it all over.

V.1: The cafes.

V.2: The Opera.

V.1: The Prater.

V.2: The gutter.

V.1: They say even Metternich repeats it.

V.2: They say even Beethoven, his old pupil.

V.1: But why now?

V.2: After so long?

V.1: Thirty-two years!

V.1: & v.2: I don't believe it!


V.1: They say he shouts it out all day!

V.2: I hear he cries it out all night!

V.1: Stays in his apartments.

V.2: Never goes out.

V.1: Not for a year now.

V.2: Longer. Longer.

V.1: Must be seventy.

V.2: Older. Older.

V.1: Antonio Salieri--

V.2: The famous musician--

V.I: Shouting it aloud!

V.2: Crying it aloud!

V.1: Impossible.

V.2: Incredible.

V.1: I don't believe it!

V.2: I don't believe it!


V.1: I know who started the tale!

V.2: I know who started the tale!

[Two old men--one thin and dry, one very fat--detach themselves from the crowd at the back and walk downstage, on either side: Salieri's VALET and PASTRY COOK. ]

V.1: [Indicating him]. The old man's valet!

V.2: [Indicating him]. The old man's cook!

V.1: The valet hears him shouting!

V.2: The cook hears him crying!

V.1: What a story!

V.2: What a scandal! [The VENTICELLI move quickly upstage, one on either side, and each collects a silent informant. VENTICELLO ONE walks down eagerly with the VALET; VENTICELLO TWO walks down eagerly with the COOK. ]

V.1: [To VALET]. What does he say, your master?

V.2: [To COOK]. What exactly does he say, the Kapellmeister?

V.1: Alone in his house--

V.2: All day and all night--

V.I: What sins does he shout?

V.2: The old fellow--

V.I: The recluse

V.2: What horrors have you heard?

V.1: & V.2: Tell us! Tell us! Tell us at once! What does he cry? What does he cry? What does he cry? [VALET and COOK gesture toward SALIERI. ] SALIERI: (In a great cry). MOZART!!! [Silence ] V.1: [Whispering]. Mozart!

V.2: [Whispering]. Mozart!

SALIERI: Perdonami, Mozart! Il tuo assassino ti chiede perdono!

V.1: [In disbelief]. Pardon, Mozart!

V.2: [In disbelief]. Pardon your assassin!

V.1 & V.2: God preserve us!

SALIERI: Pieta, Mozart! . . . Mozart, pieta!

V.1: Mercy, Mozart!

V.2: Mozart, have mercy!

V.1: He speaks in Italian when excited!

V.2: German when not!

V.1: Perdonami, Mozart!

V.2: Pardon your assassin!
[The VALET and the COOK walk to either side of the stage and stand still. Pause. The VENTICELLI cross themselves, deeply shocked. ]

V.1: There was talk once before, you know.

V.2: Thirty-two years ago.

V.1: When Mozart was dying.

V.2: He claimed he'd been poisoned!

V.1: Some said he accused a man.

V.2: Some said that man was Salieri!

V.1: But no one believed it.

V.2: They knew what he died of!

V.1: Syphilis, surely.

V.2: Like everybody else.

[Pause ]

V.1: [Slyly]. But what if Mozart was right?

V.2: If he really was murdered?

V.1: And by him. Our First Kapellmeister!

V.2: Antonio Salieri!

V.1: It can't possibly be true.

V.2: It's not actually credible.

V.1: Because why?

V.2: Because why?

V.1: & V.2: Why on earth would he do it?

V.1: And why confess now?

V.2: After thirty-two years!


Meet the Author

Peter Shaffer is a dramatist familiar to American audiences as the author of Equus and of a string of other theatrical successes: Five Finger Exercise, the Private Ear and the Public Eye, The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Black Comedy.

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Amadeus 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
peter shaffer's wickedly funny and often heartbreaking play, Amadeus, is currently being given a triumphant encore at the music box theatre on broadway. anyone who worries that broadway shall forever remain in the dramatic doldrums, need to hurry to the music box theater to catch this stunning new revival. directed with impressive brio and elan by the estimable sir peter hall, this glittering and often, human production, improves upon the original through the re-imagining of Antonio salieri, the hack court composer who may or may not have poisoned wolfgang amadeus mozart. here, david suchet, known to american audiences as inspector poirot, on agatha christie's mystery series,renders the cancerously jealous court composer with a staggering amalgam of envy, haplessness, desperation, pity, and finally, and most rewarding,empathy. it is a spellbinding performance, so much that it lends the production a deeper and more passionate sensibility. michael sheen radiates an inimitable charisma and sparkle as mozart, and gives new meaning to the phrase giddy exuberance. other notable performances come from the earthbound portrayal of Constanze, by cindy Katz, and the perfectly dim-witted hapsburg king, joseph II, as played by the ever reliable david mccallum. what a splendid evening in the theater! it is not to be missed!