National Theatre, 4th April 2018
dir. Michael Longhurst
Following a sellout run in 2017, I was absolutely thrilled that the National Theatre chose to revive 'Amadeus' with virtually the same cast and creative team for a new run in 2018 - and it did not disappoint.
I wrote, when I reviewed this production last year, that 'Amadeus' was, for me, truly life-changing theatre: and nothing is different this year. It is impossible to explain truly how affected I have been by the production - all I can do is implore you to go and see it for yourself.
This is a production that does not put a single foot wrong: it is, at all times, note perfect. The performances across the board are stunning; the music is overwhelming; the staging and lighting flawless. Michael Longhurst, as director, has tightened up what was already an exceptional show into something I believe is truly world leading.
Longhurst's direction extends beyond the stage, too. To me, the original 'Amadeus' script is too full of melodrama towards the end of Act 2. Albeit for me to levy criticism at Peter Shaffer, but I feel when I read it that the script lacks the emotional gut punch it is capable of. Shaffer himself rewrote Amadeus six times and it is the final draft of this incredible play that Longhurst has predominantly drawn upon. Gone is the melodrama, to be replaced instead with pathos, pity and heartbreak. It is beautifully done, and I think adds a great deal to the emotional resonance of the piece. As Mozart breaks, so do we. We share in a moment of realisation for Salieri: the acknowledgement that he has entirely destroyed Mozart in pursuit of his vendetta against God.
The performances from Lucian Msmati and Adam Gillen have matured since the production's first run, particularly so for Adam Gillen who's Mozart is more frenetic, more funny and even more heartbreaking. His performance physically is to be marvelled at, too: this is a Mozart who is never not on the balls of his feet, jumping, running and - for the younger audience in particular - dabbing his way across the stage. The company have produced something which seems more intense, moving, funny and spectacular than could be said for the first run - and that is no mean feat! It truly has gone from strength to strength.
The new additions to the cast are very impressive indeed, and have slipped in seamlessly to the existing company. Particularly notable additions are Adelle Leonce as Mozart's wife, Constanze, Matthew Spencer as Emperor Joseph II and Ekow Quartey as Venticelli. Spencer's Emperor seems sharper and funnier than his predecessor with slick comic timing. Leonce's Constanze is heartbreaking, particularly at the climax of the second act. Quartey's double act with original cast member Sarah Amankwah is flawless.
Impressive, too, are the Southbank Sinfonia who have returned to the production. It is the music that really brings 'Amadeus' to life - more so than even the script suggests. They are intertwined with every moment of this staggering production and were very deserving indeed of the considerable cheers they received in the curtain call.
Alongside the Southbank Sinfonia again, of course, are a collection of stunning opera singers who bring the librettos of Mozart's operas to life. Their challenge is a considerable one: with excerpts from 'The Magic Flute', 'Abduction from the Seraglio', 'Cosi Fan Tutti', 'Don Giovanni' and 'The Marriage of Figaro' amongst a range of Mozart's other work (including the emotionally destroying Lacrimosa from Mozart's final Requiem), their performances add depth to the piece. Their inclusion also adds an exceptional education for a new listener to the breadth of Mozart's work. In particular, soprano Fleur de Bray is jaw-dropping: appearing as Katerina Cavalieri she moved me to tears on several occasions through the sheer power of her voice. An absolutely stunning performance.
Please, please see it before it closes. There's not long left: it closes on Tuesday 24th April with a handful of performances before then. Don't miss out. You can buy tickets direct from the National Theatre here.