Amadeus

n Pete shaffer’s theatrical story ‘Amadeus’, Shaffer manages to create tension to engage the attention of the audience. He achieves this through styles of speech, detailed stage directions and a deep insight into the story characters. The speech in Amadeus varies for separate characters, some talk fast with short sentences like the venticelli who never say a sentence more than five or six words long. Along with the short sentences they also talk rapidly with no pause or acting sequences between lines.

This keeps the audience alert and on their toes while they are speaking, plus the venticelli also gossip about Mozart, stirring up rumours and possible rivalry amongst other characters, [p. 39] ‘they’re married… Mozart and Weber-married… really… his father will be furious! ‘ Mozart’s speech is generally vulgar and somewhat uncontrolled, he often giggles like a madman, uses obscene language in front of crowds of people and rhymes words together and says things backwards for amusement [p24] ‘I am going to bite you in half with my fang wangs! My little Stanzerl – Wanzerl – Banzerl! this engages the attention of the audience because it creates interest and mystery into Mozart’s character because you want to know why he acts like he does.

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Tension is greatly created by Mozart’s casual use of fowl language in front of important upper – class people, you are kept in anticipation waiting for it to get him in serious trouble by someone objecting to his swearing and trying put an end to it. [P. 40]’did you see his last opera?… Dog shit! Dried dog shit! ‘ Mozart seems to being trying very hard to keep control of his mouth and even admits that sometimes he loses control of himself and can’t help the way he talks.

This plays on the emotions of the audience by making them feel sorry for Mozart, and keeps the audiences attention because they get more involved with his character. Salieri’s speech is a complete opposite to Mozart’s. Salieri is a polite and well – mannered speaker, he is tactful and controlled with his language. Due to the initial disliking that Salieri takes to Mozart, Salieri knows he can’t out class Mozart with his music so he tries to use language to show him up, for instance, he speaks to Mozart in Italian expecting him not to understand, but Mozart answers back in fluent Italian [p31].

Salieri does not only use his knowledge of Italian to assert himself with Mozart, on [p. 21] he does the same to Von Strack. This is part of the initial conflict between Mozart and Salieri and it is one of the main aspects of Amadeus that Shaffer uses to engage the attention of the audience, the audience wants to know what will come of their rivalry and as it progress’, it provides them with tension and something to focus the plot on. Constanze’s speech is slightly common and middle class [p. 38] ‘oh, scuse me’, and [p. 39] ‘Ta very much’.

This intrigues the audience because they wonder how a middle class girl will fair living amongst the rich upper classes, also how Mozart will manage, because due to his lack of etiquette you would think that a wife that can compensate would be more appropriate than one who is not much better herself. The main characters of Amadeus are all quite contrasting to one another. Mozart lacks little serious for many things, he is a wild man, and a lose cannon that is ready to fire at any moment usually with a flurry of awful language and distasteful behaviour.

He tries his best when necessary to be well behaved but as previously mentioned he sometimes cannot help himself and he admits to it. Despite the vulgar way he usually acts, Mozart is far from stupid, so Shaffer creates a mystery about Mozart, he does not reveal until much further on in the story why Mozart acts so immaturely and uncivilised for a man that is so gifted and educated in culture, language and music, amongst other things. Shaffer does put Mozart forward as a disgusting vulgar man, but still makes him out to be a ‘good guy’ in the story who has a warm kind heart deep down, [p. 5] ‘oh Stanzerl, do not cry. Please do not cry… I cannot bear it when you cry… ‘ . In turn, Shaffer makes Salieri out to be the plotting, stuck up ‘bad guy’ despite his well mannered and considerate behaviour amongst others. Salieri is very polite and well spoken; he is considered as a great composer and well respected amongst his friends and colleagues. He is somewhat snobbish and stuck up however, and considers himself to be superior and above Mozart, this is why he gets so wound up and frustrated when Mozart out classes him with his music.

The contradiction in character of Mozart and Salieri results in a cold, intense rivalry between the two. They never directly show this to eachother however, they just try to out do eachother in whatever way they can, and Mozart does this most effectively by making snide and sarcastic comments about Salieri’s Italian origin and how it effects his compositions. Salieri decides to get revenge on Mozart however by trying to get to Constanze to defy Mozart’s insulting claim that [p. 45] ‘… have you heard his music? That’s the sound of someone who cannot get it up!… . This grabs the attention and interest of the audience more than anything else in the play, because Shaffer makes it clear that the conflict is going to amount to something important to the whole plot but gives very little away to when, what and how. Constanze’s character consists mainly of her curious love and loyalty to Mozart. She constantly worries about Mozart and his success as a composer. Despite the affairs and his arrogance he shows to her she knows that he loves her deep down and he needs her far more than he shows.

This child like dependency Mozart has with Constanze is what makes her stay by him, along with the somewhat unexplained and curious love she has for him. Constanze is shown by Shaffer to be the foundation and support of Mozart. He keeps taking her for granted, therefor creating tension, because due to his often pig ignorance to Constanze you are made to feel she will leave Mozart at any moment and take the foundations and support that keep him going with her. The stage directions in Amadeus are used to create tension throughout act one in many ways.

In the beginning of the story when Salieri is in the theatre, the stage directions give an initial introduction into the plot and give the audience a taste of the scheming and plotting filled story line that is to come. The whispers create a mysterious atmosphere and suggest murder and betrayal from the out set, [p. 9] ‘savaged whispers fill the theatre… the barely distinguishable word assassin! ‘. The setting description shows how the play should look on stage, a lot of the settings are grand and regal with magnificent surroundings with expensive furniture and decorations, [p. 23] ‘… wo elegantly curtained windows surrounded by handsome subdued wallpaper… ‘. This gives the audience a better feel of the story and allows them to get more involved with the plot. The lighting changes for given situations in the story to create the right mood, this gives the scenes involved greater tension.. For example, lighting is used to make Joseph out to be important and regal [p. 28] ‘Quick light change.

The emperor Joseph is revealed standing in bright light before the glided mirrors and the fireplace. ‘ Music shows Character feeling and in some cases gives greater insight into the plot, [p. 29] ‘Salieri … trikes up his march on the keyboard.. as Mozart struts in,… he stops and listens…. becoming aware of Salieri playing hi march of welcome. ‘ This extract shows how Mozart marches to the music of Salieri and has his initial reaction to Salieri’s music, this keeps the attention of the audience because it reveals the first side to the rivalry between Mozart and Salieri. Pete Shaffer creates tension using all these factors, they all revolve around the rivalry between Mozart and Salieri to create more curiosity and mystery into what the outcome of the conflict will be, this is how Shaffer engages the attention of the audience using tension.