Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Toledo Rep Presents “Amadeus”: The Tale of Salieri and Mozart

In the midst of the 91st season, Toledo Repertoire Theatre is bringing Amadeus to the stage.

Written by Peter Shaffer and debuted in the early 80s, Amadeus fictionalized the lives of famous composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and imagined a fierce rivalry between them. Full of intensity, passion, music and drama, Amadeus showcases the journey of a man fighting god, his rival and himself.

Director Matthew Gretzinger and lead actor Joe Capucini are excited to put their spin on this powerful story.

Embracing mediocrity

Gretzinger wished to direct this show because he’s always loved it; he loved the movie as a kid and was always drawn to it.

“The central theme of a man who is essentially mediocre embracing his mediocrity and coming to terms with his place in the world where there are going to be people like Mozart who challenge him. There’s something about that dynamic I find really appealing,” Gretzinger said.

Salieri is the protagonist of the story, while often portrayed as the villain and Gretzinger wants it to be known that both Salieri and Mozart can and should be viewed from sympathetic vantage points.

To put his own special touch on the show, Gretzinger is embracing his love of creating stage pictures as his directorial flourish. “I like creating interesting pictures with the actors. One trope I return to is one actor facing the audience and another standing behind them trying to influence them. Something about that composition I find very compelling.”

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The set also lends to the intensity of the subject matter using lots of dark colors and gold ornate accents. 

The other important component to the show is music and the role that it plays. “Music is elemental to the show,” Gretzinger notes. They will be using recordings as opposed to live music but it will set the tone regardless.

Number one bucket list

Joe Capucini, who plays the great Antonio Salieri in this production notes that this role has been on his bucket list for the better part of 30 years, so when the opportunity arose, he knew he had to go for it. Capucini wanted to play Salieri not only to portray the expansive arc the character goes through but also to experience the ultimate acting challenge.

“This character taps into everything I’ve learned in acting,” Capucini said. “He starts at 73 years old and goes from 31 years old back to 73. I have to embody the same person at two very different stages. He goes through an emotional rollercoaster, which is irresistible to an actor.”

Beyond his excitement to embody Salieri, Capucini is thrilled to work with the talented cast and to work again with Gretzinger, having previously done Shakespeare and other works together. “Matthew has an actor’s mind as well as a director’s mind. He does the big shows well so the cast is in good hands,” Capucini said. 

A fresh perspective

Both Matthew and Joe hope that audience members come and enjoy the talented people telling this rich story. Audience members are encouraged to distance from the fictional and historical to really enjoy the power of the story. Capucini also requests to go easy on Salieri. “The public generally looks on Salieri as a villain but he is not. He may have villainous moments but he is truly a sympathetic protagonist,” Capucini said.

Although this is a story well known and well loved by many, especially those who have seen the 1984 film, Gretzinger encourages attendees to look at it in a new light. “I would invite people to consider it afresh, to look at it in a new way,” Gretzinger said. 

Friday April 19 through Sunday April 28. Tickets can be purchased via toledorep.org.

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