Salieri (right: Jenson Kerr) recollects the performance of the young virtuoso soprano, Katherina Cavalieri (left: Haley Garnett), singing Mozart’s (Aidan Correia) new work before the Emperor (Markus Spodzieja) and guests. The Tony Award-winning play Amadeus runs at the Phoenix Theatre at UVic until March 21.

University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre brings Amadeus to life

The music, lighting and staging of this performance were again superb.

It’s been a real treat to watch the performers of the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre this season.

Their growth and maturity is palpable and they have all stretched themselves and their craft to new heights.

It’s no surprise that their latest offering, Amadeus, puts the icing on the cake.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is frequently considered the greatest musical genius the world has ever known. To his 18th-century contemporary, Antonio Salieri, however, he was vulgar, boorish and unforgivably brilliant – thus an enemy to be eliminated.

Seen through the envious eyes and possibly-skewed memory of the aging Salieri, the play chronicles their tumultuous rivalry and Salieri’s devious efforts to destroy Mozart’s career – even while recognizing the genius of his music.

The question remains: is this final confession Salieri’s last attempt to escape his own insignificant artistic legacy?

As Mozart, Aidan Correia is loud, shrill, obnoxious and hilariously rude. Correia does an admirable job of making Mozart both boorish and endearing.

Samantha Lynch’s performance as Mozart’s bride Constanze began with an amount of trepidation that I was not sure could be completely attributed to the youth of the character, but by the second act the character had settled into her bones and she was delightful to watch.

The supporting cast was superb, both as members of the court and the asylum. Standouts include the quiet, yet precise Jack Hayes, a third year student; Hayley Garnett, as virtuoso soprano Katherina Cavalieri; Francis Melling, who has a unique, charismatic stage presence and Markus Spodzieja as Emperor Joseph, performing in his final main stage show at the Phoenix.

Saving the best for last: Jensen Kerr, as Salieri, carries the weight of this play on his shoulders. The character is onstage for the duration, but for moments, and Kerr takes it on with spirit and confidence, making one eager to follow along.

The play opens on the asylum and Salieri as an infirm old man. Through his memories and Kerr’s top notch performance, the audience is taken back to Vienna in the late 1700’s.

The music, lighting and staging of this performance were again superb. The set is dark and gives focus to beautiful period costumes by designer Pauline Stynes.

Amadeus is on at the Phoenix Theatre to March 21.

For show times and tickets, click here.

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