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Mozart stays in Salzburg in Mozart's “Amadeus.”

Mozart stays in Salzburg in Mozart's “Amadeus.”

In 1979, Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus turned Mozart's image upside down. More than 40 years later, Mozart Week and the Salzburg State Theater wanted to modernize it and began a collaboration that Andreas Jergen presented in a noisy, loud and visually powerful way. But at Friday's premiere it became clear: There's not much that needs to be updated.

Schaffer's score once provided the basis for director Milos Forman, who with his Oscar-winning 1984 feature film finally ensured that the Mozart of the world would be seen as an absurd, brash genius, and that Salieri would be his envious murderer. “With this new production, Mozart Week and Salzburg Landstetter Theater join forces to present a contemporary portrait of Mozart for 2024,” the advance announcement reads, and director Andreas Jergen – the house’s former opera director and director-designate – has been appointed. Baden phase from 2025.

The costumes received the most noticeable update. Mozart wears platform shoes, leather jackets and bling in 2024. His wife Constanze wears tight mini dresses and knee-high boots with snake prints. The court and Salieri put Alexandra Kika in strict tuxedos. The stage was converted into a viewing platform in the audience room, where seating for the audience was also created on the left and right. Props such as grand pianos, wing chairs or chairs were sometimes hung from the ceiling for decoration, and sometimes they were lowered and became part of the action. Nothing can stand still on this stage.

So far there is nothing new revolutionary. What can be described as the most radical change, apart from fashion, is the fact that gender roles have been partially dissolved. Sona Macdonald became Salieri, giving her a subtle combination of sarcasm, elegant arrogance, and a little madness. Aaron Rule gave Amadeus a much greater share of the madness. And an unmistakable role model: Amadeus Thomas Hulse in the film of the same name. Rolle's “Amadeus” manages to get through it without a laugh, but with very crude language and believably increasing levels of lunacy. It was especially fun to watch physically. Always by his side: Lisa Wertner as the lecherous, feisty and sometimes naive Constanze.

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But do current fashions and manipulation of gender create a more contemporary image of Mozart? No, especially when the role model shines at all times. There was no trace of a new interpretation here. However, what Andreas Jergen manages to do is to present Schaffer's play in a new splendor and as an entertaining and, above all, visually stunning spectacle. The audience is entertained for three hours, but is not impressed.

(By Larissa Schutz/APA)

(Service – Peter Schaffer: “Amadeus” at the Salzburg Landstetter Theater, 22 Schwarzstrasse, 5020 Salzburg. Andreas Jergen – Production, Christian Florin – Stage, Alexandra Kika – Costumes, Rolando Villazon – Dramatic advice. With: Aron Roll – Wolfgang Amade Mozart , Sona MacDonald – Antonio Salieri, Lisa Wertner – Constanze, Axel Meinhardt – Joseph II, Matthias Herrmann – Count von Strack, Tina Eberhart – Count Orsini Rosenberg, Martin Trebinsee – Baron von Sweten. More shows on January 28, January 3 and 9., February 15 and 16 (www.salzburger-landestheater.at)