Saturday, May 14, 2011
Edward Gero (Salieri), courtesy of Round House Theatre
Blogger's been down since I got to see the Round House Theatre production of Amadeus on Thursday, so my reflections are no longer fresh.
Long play, short recap: Excellent. (Which is ironic, since the story is about the torment of knowing one's own mediocrity and being the only one to recognize pure genius.)
I practically know the movie version by heart, and as tempted as I was to dig out my Milos Forman video before seeing this production, I refrained in order to let the stage version inform me anew, and it did.
The most mind opening moments, for me, were when Edward Gero as Salieri repeatedly pronounced Mozart's middle name to emphasize the "god" half (deus). I don't know Latin, but I know "amo, amas" etc. are conjugations of "to love." So I got that what Salieri was saying here was that Mozart was God's beloved. I never picked up on that in repeated viewings of the movie, and I never understood why the Peter Shaffer play was called "Amadeus" and not "Wolfgang" or "Wolfie" or even just "Mozart."
Upon further reflection of the story line, I found the theme compared very well with two previous RHT productions, The Talented Mr. Ripley and A Picture of Dorian Gray: the tragedies of envy, vanity, and artistic hubris (though I guess Mr. Ripley had no artistic ambitions per se). Salieri's aspiration to become the voice of a god he loved turned toxic and menacing; as with Ripley, his envy turned homicidal.
This does not say much for those who wish to be artists or for the impulse to communicate one's soul to the masses. I think we can still do that without denying the genius of others when we recognize it.
Sometime ago, well before hitting ponderously reflective middle age, I recognized that my artistic talents were close to nonexistent: unpublished novelist, unproduced playwright. I sketch because I enjoy stopping to observe my environment and move my hand in feeble traces of the world's marvelous contours. I put pieces of video together to capture different angles of a moment in a singer's performance.
I sing, but softly, so no one has to hear. I dream, and occasionally turn daydreams into plot developments, amusing myself with the idea that one day they will compile themselves into stories and even books.
I take the same approach in my career, to recognize and support the talents of others on my team and make it my occupation to bring them due recognition (and glory to our organization).
If God or nature or the happenstance of cosmic forces granted others (but not me) the talents I admire, why should I make myself miserable with envy? It serves my own happiness better to be both Salieri, the recognizer of genius, and the Emperor, the ignorant patron.
moving up from the second to last row of the balcony, cheering madly