I will present this study at Bridges Across Cultures. International Studies Institute in Florence; Palazzo Rucellai. Florence, Italy July 2, 2015 – July 5, 2015.
The internal confilct of Salieri when confronted with Mozart’s genius has been portrayed starting from Pushkin’s “little tragedy” Mozart and Salieri (1830), to Shaffer’s play Amadeus (1979), which in turn inspired the acclaimed film by Forman (1984). These texts explore the mystery of genius and the theme of envy by juxtaposing different artistic types, which also epitomize the conflict of cultures of that age. On one side is Salieri, the devout courtisan who achieves his art by way of self-abnegation, virtuous in life but not virtuous in music. On the other is the inspired prodigy, sublime in music but dissolute in life who simultanously composes for Joseph II and the theatre of Shikaneder. This study explores how Salieri struggles with the idea that the gift of music is distributed randomly, and this creates in him a metaphysical anger. Salieri’s reaction to Mozart hinders him artistically. He begins to consider his work through the perspective of immortality, and the value of his immediate success is diminished in this light. When he finally comes to realize the dreadful bite of his failures, he whispers his name to us, calling himself the “Patron Saint of Mediocrities.”
Rock me Amadeus: The Mozart-Salieri Conflict in Drama & Film
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