Amadeus Program

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by Peter Shaffer

By Arrangement with ORiGiN (TM) Theatrical, On Behalf of Samuel French, A Concord Theatricals Company


Antonio Salieri • Jim Adamik
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart • Jack Shanahan
Constanze Weber, wife to Mozart • Sienna Curnow
Joseph II, Emperor of Austria • Neil McLeod
Count Johann Killian von Strack • David H Bennett
Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg • Tony Falla
Baron Gottfried van Swieten • Ian Russell
The 'Venticelli' • Michael J. Smith, Justice-Noah Malfitano
Katherina Cavalieri • Harriet Allen
Citizens of Vienna • Charlotte Edlington, Grace Jasinski, Blair Liu, Kelly McInnes, John Whinfield, Joan White


Vienna, Austria
1781 – 1823


3hr incl. 20min interval

Bar service available during interval & after the performance


simulated violence & blood, adult themes, stage fog


A deadly battle of jealousy and genius.

Salieri bargained with God: servitude in return for fame through music. He rises to become the favoured Austrian Court Composer when Mozart arrives: foolish, foul-mouthed, and a musical genius. God has betrayed their bargain and Salieri will have his revenge. Mozart’s music underscores the relationship between these two composers; their fates entwined with murderous intent. This is Salieri’s confession. Did he do it?


I’ve been a fan of Peter Shaffer’s work since I encountered his 1964 play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun — an engaging play, based on real people, and a ripping yarn into the bargain. Here was a playwright who didn’t let the truth stand in the way of a good plot. And that can be said doubly about his 1979 Tony Award-winning Amadeus.

Amadeus offers a fictitious account of the rivalry between Mozart and Salieri: Mozart, today still recognised as one of the very best; Salieri, admired and acclaimed in his day, but much less so in ours.

There is a considerable amount of factual material in the play — mostly about Mozart whose life is well documented. About Salieri we have less information — so much more room for poetic licence! Based on a rumour that Salieri was responsible for Mozart’s death, and on a claim by Mozart that he was being poisoned (a claim he retracted when he felt better), Shaffer constructs an imagined account of the relationship between the two. So out of part truth, part rumour and part fiction Shaffer creates a play that is a combination of psychological thriller, murder mystery, and detective story. Did he do it?

Presented from the point of view of the vengeful Salieri, the play offers a believable psychological portrait of a complex frustrated and embittered man. It begins with Salieri as an old man speaking directly to the audience, baring his heart to us by taking us back into the past, telling the story of his relationship with Mozart. As he tells us, Salieri’s deepest and most passionate desire is to become a great composer. He makes a deal with God: Salieri’s devotion and a pure life dedicated to God in return for God’s helping him to achieve his aim.

So, there he is as a young man in Vienna, admired and praised for his music. But he knows it isn’t good enough and he longs to achieve true excellence. Into this comfortable but unsatisfying life comes Mozart, a slightly younger man whose reputation throughout Europe is well established. Salieri realises that Mozart is a true musical genius who can effortlessly compose the kind of music that Salieri can only dream of creating. Mozart, whose middle name is Amadeus — loved of God — has the gift that Salieri is denied. Moreover, Salieri is horrified and outraged to see that Mozart is an irritating, foul-mouthed, undisciplined, foolish child!

Salieri is overcome by anger with God, who has scorned him, and by an overwhelming jealousy. From thereon we follow Salieri in his quest to block the career of God’s chosen instrument — to silence Mozart. And so he tells us his story, taking us on leaps through time and space, back and forward through time — over decades and centuries — and from one location to another. And always he hears — and we hear — Mozart’s music, always delighting and devastating.

What do you think? Did he do it?

Cate Clelland

PLAYWRIGHT • Peter Shaffer

Peter Shaffer was born into a Jewish family in Liverpool. He was the identical twin brother of Anthony Shaffer, author of Sleuth, and screenwriter of The Wicker Man and the Agatha Christie film Death on the Nile.

In 1944–47 he was a conscript in the coal mines in England, one of the so-called ‘Bevin Boys’. He gained a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, to study history, graduating in 1950. Before starting writing, he was a bookstore clerk and assistant at the New York Public Library. From 1951–55 he and his twin brother wrote three detective novels under the pseudonym ‘Peter Anthony’: The Woman in the Wardrobe; How Doth the Little Crocodile?; and Withered Murder. In 1951 his first radio play, The Prodigal Father was presented on the BBC. In 1955 his first TV play, The Salt Land, premiered on ITV. He wrote Five Finger Exercise in 1958, which played the West End, directed by John Gielgud, winning the Evening Standard Drama Award. On Broadway it won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

His next plays were a double bill, The Private Ear/The Public Eye (1962), starring Maggie Smith and Kenneth Williams. In 1964 his play about Pizzaro’s conquest of Peru, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, played at the National Theatre. Black Comedy (1965), written for a National Theatre double-bill with Strinberg’s Miss Julie, starred Derek Jacobi, Maggie Smith, and Albert Finney. He wrote his own companion piece, The White Liars (1967), to play a double-bill on Broadway starring Michael Crawford, Geraldine Page, and Lynn Redgrave. In 1998 Black Comedy played a double-bill in London with Tom Stoppard’s Real Inspector Hound starring David Tennant.

Inspired by a newspaper story, Shaffer developed Equus (1973), which opened at the National Theatre (1973–75) before a 1,209-performance run on Broadway (1974–77) originally starring Anthony Hopkins and later Richard Burton (who also starred in the film), Leonard Nimroy, and Anthony Perkins. Equus won Shaffer the Tony Award and New York Drama Critic’s Cirle Award for Best Play and the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Play. It was revived on the West End and Broadway in 2007–09 with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe.

From the mid-70s Shaffer lived in New York with his partner, Robert Leonard, a voice teacher whose pupils included Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline, and Linda Ronstadt.

Shaffer took Amadeus from Alexander Pushkin’s drama Mozart and Salieri (1831), written a few years after Salieri’s death and adapted into an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1898. Amadeus was first presented in 1979 at the National Theatre with Paul Schofield as Salieri, Simon Callow as Mozart, and Felicity Kendal as Constanze. On Broadway in 1980 it premiered with Ian McKellen as Salieri, Tim Curry as Mozart, and Jane Seymour as Costanze, winning five Tony Awards. During the 1,181-performance run, John Wood and Frank Langella played Salieri, Peter Firth and Mark Hamill played Mozart, and Amy Irving played Constanze. A recent run at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall starred Michael Sheen as Salieri. The 1984 film, starring F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce, won eight Academy Awards including Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shaffer had a rare failure in the mid-80s with Yonadab (1985) — inspired by the biblical story of the rape of Tamar in the time of King David — receiving critical and popular disdain. Despite this, in 1987 he was awarded the CBE and wrote the comedy Lettice and Lovage for Dame Maggie Smith, winning Smith her first Tony Award when it played Broadway in 1990.

Shaffer’s final play, The Gift of the Gorgon played the Royal Shakespeare Company (1992), starring Dame Judi Dench and Michael Pennington, directed by Peter Hall. It featured a controversial playwright and his wife as they engage with questions of revenge and stage violence.

Shaffer was knighted in 2001. He died in 2016, shortly after his 90th birthday, after a short illness while visiting Ireland. He and Leonard are buried together in Highgate Cemetery, London.

compiled by Simon Tolhurst

THE MUSIC • Christine Faron

It is a privilege to have Christine Faron, a Canberra pianist and specialist in 18th Century keyboard music, record the music that Salieri and Mozart ‘play’ on stage in this production of Amadeus.

The Musician

Christine was born in England of Polish parents. She began piano lessons in London at the age of four, and gave her first public performance to an audience of over 1,000 at the age of five. Her family emigrated to Australia when she was twelve.

After attending ANU School of Music, Christine returned to England to study harpsichord construction and Baroque performance practice at The Harpsichord Centre in London, where she made her own harpsichord.

On returning to Australia Christine moved to Sydney, completing her tertiary studies and then teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and touring and recording as harpsichordist for the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

She completed further studies abroad at the Conservatoire Royale de Musique in Belgium, and spent ten years working and performing throughout Europe as a professional soloist to great critical acclaim. She regularly performed in Mozart’s house in Salzburg, Austria, including numerous concerts there during the Salzburg Festival. During the ‘Mozart Year’ (1991), the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna selected Christine’s CD recordings to illustrate the sound of Mozart’s favourite piano for a special exhibition, The Sound-World of Mozart.

Since returning to Australia, Christine has given many successful concerts, broadcasts, teachers’ workshops and in-service courses in Canberra and interstate. She currently runs a busy private teaching studio with an impeccable track record for outstanding achievement in Piano and Theory Examinations, does freelance work for various institutions, and is preparing a series of books on piano technique.

The Instrument

Whilst resident in Germany during the 1980’s, Christine embarked on extensive research into fortepiano (18th Century piano) performance, techniques, history, and construction. In 1982 she assisted one of the world’s leading fortepiano makers (Werner Keil of Schriesheim, near Heidelberg) in making her replicas of Beethoven’s Viennese piano (Nanette Stein & Brother) and of Mozart’s favourite model of piano (J.A. Stein of Augsburg), which she played for the recordings in this production.

compiled from
photograph by Ian Hart


Director • Cate Clelland
Assistant Director • Ian Hart
Assistant to the Director • Rosemary Gibbons

Stage Manager • Ewan
Stage Crew • Kristen Seal

Set Designer • Cate Clelland
Set Coordinator • Russell Brown OAM
Set Construction & Painting • Russell Brown OAM, Gordon Dickens, Andrew Kay, John Klingberg, Brian Moir, Eric Turner
Properties • Brenton Warren

Costume Designer • Deborah Huff-Horwood
Wardrobe Coordinator • Jeanette Brown OAM
Costume Makers • Cheryll Bowyer, Jeanette Brown OAM, Suzan Cooper, Anne Dickens, Helen Drum, Ros Engledow, Rosemary Gibbons, Rhana Good, Deborah Huff-Horwood, Jenny Kemp, Ann Moloney, Kristen Seal, Anna Senior OAM, Anne Turner, Joan White

Lighting Designer • Nathan Sciberras
Lighting Operators • Leeann Galloway, Deanna Gifford, Leanne van der Merwe, Ashley Pope

Sound Designer • Neville Pye
Fortepiano recordings • Christine Faron, Justin Mullins
Ghosts of the Future original composition • Ewan
Sound Operators • Leo Mansur, Lawrence Mays, Neville Pye, Disa Swifte

Front of House Coordinator • Anne Gallen
Front of House Volunteers • Members of the REP FoH Team

Production Manager • David H Bennett
Council Production Liaison • Anne Gallen
Marketing • Helen Drum, Karina Hudson
Promotional image, headshots, & rehearsal photography • Karina Hudson
Production photography • Karina Hudson, Eve Murray
Foyer photographs • Ross Gould
Graphic design • Tiana Johannis Design, Karina Hudson
Program • Karina Hudson

Thanks to • Tindara Barca, Leigh Widdowson


Play your part in helping REP continue to play its important role in Canberra’s theatre scene.

Canberra Repertory Society (REP) receives assistance from the ACT Government, through the use of the venue, and from some sponsorships. We do not receive any operational grants — our activities are almost entirely self-funded. We rely on box office receipts, memberships, and your generous tax deductible donations that enable us to continue producing professional-quality theatre.

Canberra Repertory Society is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC); is registered with the Australian Government through the Australian Tax Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR); and is listed on the Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO), administered through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

Antonia Kitzel, President


REP truly appreciates the generosity and commitment of each and every donor. Gifts, both financial and in kind, made by individuals guarantee the excellence that patrons have come to expect from our productions. Donors who gave fifty dollars or more in the current financial year are recorded below.

Anonymous, Geoffrey Bartlett, Judith Bateman, Kevin & Pauline Bryant, Judi Crane, Amy Crawford, Pam Crichton, Roslyn Engledow & Graeme Dennett, Julie Ermert, Stephen Fischer, Ken & Carmel Francis, Graham & Gillian Giles, Lesly Harland, Kathleen Holtzapffel, Keith Huggan, Robert McColl, Mary-Ann McQuestin, Anne Moten, Therese Neal, Sandie Parkes, Joan Pratt, Andreas Radtke, Oliver & Helen Raymond, Michael Reddy & Christine Miller, Henning & Jude Schou, David Smith, Hugh Smith, Edy Syquer, Mike & Pat Varga, Fiona Tito Wheatland, David & Jan Weeden, Maureen Whittaker, Geoff Williams, Dr Peter S Wilkins, Tim & Shane Woodburn


President • Antonia Kitzel
Vice Presidents • Virginia Cook, Victoria Dixon
Treasurer • Stephen Fischer
Council Members • Anne Gallen, Elizabeth Goodbody, Nathan Hannigan, Ian Hart, Wolf Hecker, Alexandra Pelvin, Michael Sparks OAM
Company Secretary • Malcolm Houston
Minutes Secretary • Winston Bucknall

Business Manager • Helen Drum
Box Office Staff • Ben Waldock
Marketing Assistant • Karina Hudson
Bookkeeper • Fiona Langford


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