Mozart, already one of the most prolific and influential composers of the Classical Era, became, if not quite a household name, at least part of the cultural lexicon after “Amadeus” hit the big screen in 1984. The nearly three-decade-old movie is a fictionalized account of the interweaving lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and contemporary composer Antonio Salieri, which went on to win 13 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
But before the movie, “Amadeus” was already a Tony Award-winning play written by Peter Shaffer. And this weekend, Colorado Mountain College at Spring Valley will launch its fall theater season with the play Friday, Oct. 18, in the campus' New Space Theatre.
While the story is ostensibly about the rivalry between Salieri, the court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, and Mozart, the young composer recently introduced to the Italian court, the story delves as much into the roots of jealousy and genius as it does the pair's fictionalized relationship.
“Many people think the play is a battle between Salieri and Mozart,” says director Brad Moore, “but it's really the battle between Salieri and God.”
The play opens with Salieri reflecting back on his life after he confesses to the audience that he is responsible for the death of Mozart. In the play, Salieri makes a promise to God, saying, “Signore, let me be a composer! Grant me sufficient fame to enjoy it. In return, I will live with virtue. I will strive to better the lot of my fellows.”
But Moore, who describes Mozart's character in the play as Peter Pan-like, says the introduction of the extremely talented yet childish Mozart challenges Salieri's fame and skill.
“Mozart doesn't want to grow up but he has this responsibility of talent,” Moore says.
The role of Mozart is played by Nick Garay, CMC's first theater program graduate. Now a professional actor, his recent roles include Romeo in the Hudson Reed Ensemble's “Romeo and Juliet” (performed in Aspen's Galena Plaza this summer) and Edmund in the Thunder River Theatre Company's “Long Day's Journey into Night.”
“The physicality of the role is very challenging,” Garay says. “Mozart is a creative genius, living with ups and downs.”
But despite the challenges, Garay says he already knows that he will “look back on and say that this was one of my favorite roles.”
According to Gary Ketzenbarger, who plays Salieri, the play explores to what length his character will go to secure what he wants.
“There are multitudes of depth to this man,” says Ketzenbarger, who is also the director of the college's theater program. “You can't play him in one note. He becomes possessed by thoughts of envy and jealousy.”
Several of Mozart's masterful compositions will be played during the performance, giving the audience a real “sense of his genius,” says Moore.
The play also features CMC students Ashley Williford, Karissa Oder, Elizabeth Bossert, Jason Cirkovic, Paige Ulmer, David Collier, Bella Barnum, Jarrod Majkut, Kevin Cote, Jaime Sklavos and J.D. Miller, who is also the managing director of CMC Theatre. Chris Walsh, a former student and CMC adjunct instructor, will also perform.
Tickets can be reserved now at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 947-8177. Tickets for “Amadeus” are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors, staff and faculty. Season tickets are also available for $60, $40 for staff and faculty.
Presented by CMC Spring Valley
Oct 18-19 & 24-26 at 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 & 27 at 2 p.m.
At the New Space Theater
Cost: $15/adults, $10/students, seniors, staff and faculty
email@example.com  970-947-8177