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By Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal
Special to Village News 

'Amadeus' is a visual dream

 

Last updated 9/11/2019 at 1:59pm

Aaron Rumley photo

In "Amadeus," Rafael Goldstein, seated, plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Tony Amendola plays Antonio Salieri.

"Amadeus" is a visual delight. From the elegant costumes to the lavish set, it appears enough was not a consideration for Emperor Joseph II of Austria. Indicative of the Viennese Court for the 10 years between 1781 and 1791, Emperor Joseph was omnipotent in all things.

Even so, he could be influenced by those he trusted like Antonio Salieri, the Royal Kapellmeister (music master).

On the day of his death, Salieri (Tony Amendola) recalls his every misdeed even his argument with God. It appears the character is well acted. Certainly, well memorized. He died slowly.

Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer surely desired to relive every day of Mozart's short life in this requiem piece.

Mozart believed Salieri to be his friend. He never knew his career was squashed by the envious, self-loathing, untalented popinjay Salieri.

It becomes a lid-dropping monologue as Salieri reiterates his enormous envy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's talent. It's only the end of the first act.

Act II. Even though "Amadeus" is the name of the play – more pity that – it is tirelessly retold by Salieri.

Rafael Goldstein masters Mozart's flamboyant, fearless-childlike persona. He, was a joy to watch along with his wife, Constance. Kathryn Tkel was the heart of Constance Mozart. She played her to perfection.

When asked who copied his scores, Mozart answered that the music was already written in his head and all he did was transcribe it on clean sheets of paper. saying, "writing music is easy, it's marriage that's hard."

When Salieri's soliloquy pauses for breath, there are interludes of humor, a bit of debauchery, witty interchange, a few recorded orchestrations, avarice, and even prayer.

Costume designer Eliza Benzoni dressed each actor with flair and elegance, especially Mozart. He appeared as a foppish dandy in bright satin coats and coordinating knickers. Surely her exquisite costumes are worthy of the local award given for such things.

Peter Herman brought only the finest wigs and hairstyles to this production. A joy to see.

Set designer Marty Burnett spared no expense putting together Emperor Joseph II's palace.

Louis Lotorto as the Emperor of Austria is elegantly styled from head to toe. He offers much to the show with each "and there you have it."

Other characters include Venticelli 1 played by Christopher M. Williams and Venticelli 2 played by Alice Sherman. Actually meaning "the wind" in Italian, the two Venticelli are Salieri's tipsters and gossip mongers. Both characters are effective.

Each of the three gentlemen of the Court add value to the show. They are Count Johann Kilian von Strack (Nick Kennedy), Count Orsini-Rosenberg (Andrew Oswald), and Baron Gottfreid Van Swieten (Andrew Barnicle).

Katherina Cavalieri is performed by Leigh Ellen Akin, who plays the young opera singer tutored by both Amadeus and Salieri to perfection. She was even wearing panniers.

More kudos for Benzoni performing miracles with each costume. The coats were perfectly fit and the gowns true to the period.

The play is visual eye candy, yet suffers from length. One hundred and fifty-five minutes later, not counting the longer than 15-minute intermission, the audience is set free.

Next up, Neil Simon's "Sunshine Boys."

"Amadeus" is playing at North Coast Repertory, 987 Lomas Sante Fe Drive, Solana Beach until Oct. 6. There is rumor it will be extended. For tickets, call the Box office at (858) 481-1055 or visit northcoastrep.org. "Amadeus" is rated 10 for visual beauty and 9 out of 10 for performance.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at eyoungman@reedermedia.com

 

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