What the two men have in common is an appreciation for music that far exceeds what anybody else at court is capable of — not just an ear, but a spirit. The passages in which Salieri describes Mozart's operas, as the music itself plays behind him, are among Shaffer's most exquisite. Hundertmark's Salieri speaks these with a pleasure indistinguishable from pain, and as Lewis conducts Mozart's work (quite well), he conveys both the young man's brilliance and his unadulterated joy, without ego or ostentation, in trying to "turn the audience into God".

We already know — from history, and from Salieri himself — that this eternal child is not going to make it, that he'll be dead of syphilis and in a pauper's grave before he's 28. But his fall and pathos are still haunting, in Lewis's hands (his baby-talk with Constanze is both sweet and haunting; his descent into syphilitic madness is aching), and even more difficult to watch is Salieri's slow transformation into a truly despicable, pitiable creature. In turning on God, the music that so moves him, and the man who created it, he has really turned on himself.

Megan Grumbling can be reached at  mgrumbling@hotmail.com.

AMADEUS | by Peter Shaffer | Directed by Genevieve Aichele | Produced by New Hampshire Theatre Project, in Portsmouth NH | through January 23 | 603.431.6644

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: Review: Good Theater's solid Moonlight and Magnolias, Trinity Rep’s rip-roaring His Girl Friday, Play by play: March 12, 2010, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Theater, Theatre,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HOW TO DRESS A WOUND  |  October 24, 2014
    Kayleen and Doug first meet when they’re both eight years old and in the school nurse’s office: She has a stomachache, and he has “broken his face” whilst riding his bike off the school roof. Their bond, though awkward and cantankerous, is thus immediately grounded in the grisly intimacy of trauma.
  •   TRAUMATIC IRONY  |  October 15, 2014
    A creaky old oceanfront Victorian. Three adult siblings who don’t like each other, plus a couple of spouses. A codicil to their father’s will that requires them to spend an excruciating week together in the house. And, of course, various ghosts.
  •   OVEREXTENDED FAMILY  |  October 11, 2014
    “I’m inclined to notice the ruins in things,” ponders Alfieri (Brent Askari). He’s recalling the downfall of a longshoreman who won’t give up a misplaced, misshapen love, a story that receives a superbly harrowing production at Mad Horse, under the direction of Christopher Price.   
  •   SOMETHING'S GOTTA FALL  |  October 11, 2014
    While it hasn’t rained on the Curry family’s 1920’s-era ranch in far too long, the drought is more than literal in The Rainmaker .
  •   SURPASSED MENAGERIE  |  October 03, 2014
    Do Buggeln and Vasta make a Glass Menagerie out of Brighton Beach Memoirs? Well, not exactly.

 See all articles by: MEGAN GRUMBLING