Polish motion-picture and theatre director Roman Polanski will direct a new Italian touring production of Peter Shaffer's Tony-winning drama Amadeus, which is scheduled to open at Piacenza's Teatro Comunale on Oct. 29 and to move on to Turin, Cesena and Milan later in the season. Stage and television star Luca Barbareschi will play the role of Salieri; no details were given by the production for the other cast members. The show will feature sets by Luigi Perego and costumes by Academy-award winner Milena Canonero.
Although Polanski worked extensively in Europe after fleeing from the United States in 1977, when he became involved in a scandal and was charged with having sex with a pre-adolescent, he has never directed a stage show in Italy before. His latest 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. 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 and direct another international hit, Ben Elton's Popcorn, which will enjoy its Italian premiere in March 2000 at Rome's Teatro Quirino.