The new Italian production of Peter Shaffer's Tony-winning drama Amadeus directed by Roman Polanski, began previews at Piacenza's Teatro Comunale on Oct. 29. It officially opens on Nov. 30 at Milan's Teatro Manzoni, where it is scheduled for a six-week residence through Jan 9.
Stage and television star Luca Barbareschi will play the role of Salieri; 20-year-old actor Emiliano Coltorti will play the role of Mozart. The show features sets and costumes by Academy-award winner Milena Canonero, whose film credits include "Barry Lyndon," "Chariots of Fire," "Out of Africa," "Dick Tracy," "The Godfather" trilogy and the forthcoming "Titus" directed by Julie Taymor.
Although Polanski worked extensively in Europe after fleeing from the United States in 1977, when he became involved in a sex scandal, he has never directed a stage show in Italy before. His latest stage success is Jim Steinman's award-winning Broadway bound musical Tanz der Vampire, which is currently running at Vienna's Raymund Theatre.
Amadeus tells of artistic rivalry between the established court composer whose music played by all the rules, the Italian Antonio Salieri, and the musical genius who rewrote the way music would be understood, the Austrian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The original production of the play dates back to 1979 and was directed by Peter Hall at London's National Theatre. The show moved on to Broadway and starred Ian McKellen as Salieri and Tim Curry as Mozart. Polanski himself directed and starred in a Polish production of Amadeus in 1981: he performed in Warsaw and in Paris.
Amadeus won a 1981 Tony Award as Best Play for Shaffer, with the film, by Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") winning the 1985 Academy Award as Best Picture. The film version starred F. Murray Abraham as Salieri (a role that won him the Academy Award) and Tom Hulce as Mozart. The play recently enjoyed a London revival, again directed by Peter Hall, with David Suchet and Michael Sheen playing the two leads. The production is scheduled for a Broadway run, with a tentative Dec. 16 opening. The new mounting received five Olivier Award nominations during its West End run, including Best Actor for Suchet and Outstanding Performance for Sheen. Other major dramatic works by Shaffer that have enjoyed critical acclaim and successful runs in London's West End are Lettice and Lovage (1987), winner of the Evening Standard Award for best comedy, and The Gift of the Gorgon (1992).
In the second part of the season, Luca Barbareschi will star in another international hit, Ben Elton's Popcorn, which will enjoy its Italian premiere in March 2000 at Rome's Teatro Quirino.
For further information on the Milan run of Amadeus, visit the Teatro Manzoni website.