Mozart and Salieri

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Mozart and Salieri is a play by Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)[1]

The original text

Written in 1830, it was one of four short plays by Pushkin, generally known as The Little Tragedies,

Based on a legend that Salieri poisoned Mozart (one of the many numerous rumours caused by the early death of Mozart), features only three characters: Mozart, Antonio Salieri, and a non-speaking part in the blind fiddler and meditates on the nature of creativity.

It was the only one of Pushkin's plays that was staged during his lifetime (in 1831) and was published in 1832.

Translations and adaptations

In 1897 the play was adapted as a one-act opera, also called Mozart and Salieri, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)[2]

In 1914 is was made into a silent film called Mozart and Salieri by Victor Tourjansky (1891-1976)[3].

In 1962 it was made into a Soviet television drama film with the same name.

In 1979 another Soviet television miniseries called Little Tragedies directed by Mikhail Schweitzer (1920-2000)[4], based on works by Alexander Pushkin. It included an episode based on the play.

Mozart and Salieri was the inspiration for Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus, which Shaffer also adapted for the 1984 film of the same name.

Performance history in South Africa

2000: The play, followed by the opera (sung in Russian), were performed together as a two-hander at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre in Stellenbosch on 27 and 29 January and 2 and 4 February. Both directed by Mark Graham. The play featured Ralph Lawson as "Salieri" and Alan Committie as "Mozart". In the opera the same roles were played by André Howard and Hilton Marlton[5], with Arnold Bosman conducting. The set and costume designs were by James Macnamara, lighting design by Kobus Rossouw (wrongly billed as Cobus Rossouw) and stage management by Cara Dowling.

2018: A new ballet, Mozart and Salieri, choreographed by Marc Goldberg[6], was presented from February 7 to 17 at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town.


The Cape Times, Arts & Entertainment, 4 January 2018. [7]

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