Amadeus

Amadeus - Introduction When Peter Shaffer's Amadeus opened...

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Introduction When Peter Shaffer's Amadeus opened at the National Theatre of Great Britain in November 1979, it was received enthusiastically by audiences and critics alike. One year after its premiere, London audiences began to line up at ticket offices at six in the morning on the day of performance. Shaffer revised the play extensively before its American debut in Washington, D.C., in November 1980. Soon after, the play opened on Broadway, where it won five Tonys, including a Tony for best drama of the 1980 season. The popularity of the play ensured the success of the 1984 film version, directed by Milos Forman, which received nominations for eleven Oscars and won eight, including best picture, best director, and best actor. Amadeus has also gained appreciative audiences internationally. The play explores the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, the court composer for the Emperor of Austria in the late eighteenth century. Shaffer became interested in the relationship between the two composers after learning about Mozart's mysterious death. Although failing to find evidence that Salieri murdered Mozart, Shaffer admits, in an interview with Roland Gelatt, that ''by then the cold eyes of Salieri were staring at me. . . . The conflict between virtuous mediocrity and feckless genius took hold of my imagination, and it would not leave me alone." Critics have praised the play's craftsmanship and its penetrating psychological study of the effects of success and failure and the search for spirituality. Biography Peter Shaffer and his twin brother, Anthony, were born in Liverpool, England, on May 15, 1926, to Jack (a real estate agent) and Reka (Fredman) Shaffer. When Shaffer was ten, the family moved to London, where Shaffer attended St. Paul's School. There he developed an interest in music, which would be a catalyst for his later treatment of the story of Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus . After earning a degree from Cambridge in 1950, Shaffer moved to New York City and found employment at a book shop in the New York Public Library. When he relocated to London in 1954, he began writing scripts for radio and television. His first stage play, Five Finger Exercise , produced in 1958, won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best foreign play in 1960. Royal Hunt of the Sun , which opened in 1964, solidified his literary reputation. This play, which dramatizes the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, focuses on explorations of success, humiliation, and faith—themes that Shaffer would return to in his later plays. He gained more accolades for Equus (1973), which won the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and Amadeus , which won five Tony Awards in 1981 and was named best play of the year by Plays and Players . The film version of Amadeus won several Academy Awards in 1984, including best picture
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and best screenplay adaptation for Shaffer's script. In 1994, Shaffer was appointed Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University. Shaffer has been heralded for his successful work in a variety of dramatic genres,
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2009 for the course ANTH 115 taught by Professor Kable during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

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Amadeus - Introduction When Peter Shaffer's Amadeus opened...

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