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Amadeus ReviewAmadeus, the Tony-Award winning tale of 18th-century court composer Antonio Salieri’s envy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is a mighty challenge for actors.The nearly three-hour drama is told from the viewpoint of Salieri, who frequently comes to the front of the stage to explain himself in lengthy and passionate detail. It takes a dedicated performer to memorize the lines and a skilled actor to keep them interesting.Perhaps that’s why the director of the production opening Friday at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center started rehearsals with the actor who plays Salieri, Anthony Casale, six months ago.”Anthony and I began working on his (Salieri) character last April,” said Diana Forgione, founder-director of the Avenue Players, the semi-professional troupe doing the show. “We’ve all studied the period and the people until we feel we know them. We’ve worked hard to make those characters real and believable, parading around in those elaborate costumes, getting accustomed to how the material moves and feels.”At a recent dress rehearsal, the effort seemed to have been rewarded.Many scholars have protested playwright Peter Shaffer’s version of the relationship between Salieri and Mozart (played by Rick Bronson). They say that Shaffer’s play distorts the customs of the era by unfairly comparing them with today’s, overblows the rivalry and does a disservice to Salieri.Even so, both scholars and theater critics praised the dramatic structure and impact of the play itself, and audiences have received it enthusiastically. The drama isn’t intended to be a biography; it’s a powerful story of envy, obsession and betrayal, using historical figures and anecdotes as springboards for timeless messages.The play opens as Salieri, old and senile, sits hunched over and raving in his wheelchair as his servants scurry about, gossiping. He claims to have poisoned Mozart decades earlier, not with a potion, but with cunning and deceit. He then rises and transforms into his youthful self to tell the tale.In the play, the devout Salieri bargains with God for the ability to compose great music, in return for pious behavior. He feels betrayed by God when the foul-mouthed, libertine Mozart outdoes him with little apparent effort.

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