Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart diEd Penniless in 1791, accusing rival composer Antonio Salieri of poisoning him. In 1823, legend has it Salieri repeatedly and loudly confessed to the murder on the last night of his life.
Playwright Peter Shaffer's Amadeus tells of the jealous composer's battle with his God for making him a famous but mediocre talent, while endowing the vulgar Mozart with a heaven-blessed musical gift.
First produced by OpenStage Theatre in 1992, Amadeus was selected by audiences to hit the floorboards once again to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary.
Actor Jonathan Farwell has his own history with the lead role of Antonio Salieri. He understudied Daniel Day Lewis in the role for a national tour in 1982 and later played the part when Lewis' contract ran out.
"I'd have to say Salieri is my favorite role, even though it doesn't have the universality you'd find in Hamlet," said Farwell. "It's a beautifully crafted portrayal of a man at war with his God, and that's pretty wonderful material."
In addition to these connections, Farwell is also an accomplished pianist and the son of a composer.
Actors returning to the roles they originally created for the 1992 OpenStage production include Stetson Weddle as Mozart, Lisa Rosenhagen as Constanze and Bruce K. Freestone as the Emperor Joseph II.
Audiences may recall the Amadeus movie released in 1984, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The original play, upon which the movie is based, won the Tony Award for Best Play.
"The play is very theatrical," said OpenStage Director Peter Anthony. "Salieri speaks directly to the audience, drawing them in so they identify with him. He conjures the audience as the ghost of the future, so they're no longer passive observers but rather Salieri's confessors."
Farwell notes the key to Salieri lies in his being the only person who recognizes the brilliance of Mozart's work. Mozart's immense, innovative musical talents expose the trifling mediocrity of Salieri's own gifts as a composer. Blaming the Creator for this cosmic injustice, the formerly God-fearing Salieri resolves to destroy Mozart by undercutting him with the fawners and flatterers who populate the court of the Austrian Emperor.
"Salieri experiences an annihilation of his self as he view's Mozart's genius," said Anthony. "To Salieri, Mozart is a cosmological, theological, philosophical and musical crisis.
"Ultimately," continues Anthony, "Amadeus possesses a universal theme - one that is applicable to any age or time - by asking us to explore institutions of our current era, whether political, economic, religious or cultural, that have become increasingly dysfunctional. What Amadeus is asking is, 'Where are the geniuses of today that will survive the annihilation of our myths?' "
Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer, directed by Peter Anthony, will run today, February 16 to March 16: Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. on March 3 and 10, a pay-what-you-can show on Thursday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m., and a free student show on Thursday, February 14, at 7:30 p.m. All performances take place at the Lincoln Center Magnolia Theater, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins.
Special Offers: FAB Friday, 8 p.m., February 22, all tickets $14, free beer at intermission provided by Odelle Brewing Company. Pay-What-You-Can Performance, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, February 21 (cash or check donation at the door; no advance sales or reservations). Childcare through Young People's Learning Center, March 1 and 15 performances (childcare reservations 970-482-1212). Free Student/Educator Performance, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, February 14 (student reservations: 970-484-5237).
Cost: Fridays and Saturdays: $22-27 adults; $16-20 seniors, students and groups of 10 or more; Sundays: $16-20 all tickets; FAB Friday: $14 all tickets. Tickets: Lincoln Center box office, 970-221-6730 or www.LCTIX.com.
Audiences are invited to meet the cast of Amadeus following every performance. For more information, visit OpenStage's website at www.openstage.com or call 970-484-5237.