Masaryk university of brno faculty of education

The role of dialogue in Amadeus

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The role of dialogue in Amadeus

Throughout the play, the dialogues between Mozart and Salieri are limited practically to a mutual exchange of single-sentenced utterances. Both are extraordinary musicians of their time and, theoretically, expected to discuss their experience in composing music and share new musical forms. Nevertheless, these attributes are not present in Shaffer´s Amadeus since both composers possess totally different expressions of interpersonal communication. Only shallowly Salieri commands respect, in fact his affection is a disguise which serves for the purpose to discriminate and corrupt Mozart’s eccentric exhibitions. Neurotic, impatient and eager Mozart is familiar with the settled, conventional Italian music and he neither seems to exhibit any signs of interest to Salieri´s music productions, nor has he the will of being fawning like Salieri is over the Emperor. By no means does he want to show a respect to Salieri’s work, for Mozart so boring and feeble. It results in the fact that their communication is limited to small talks with a hint of sarcasm and insults.

Mozart is being accused of using exaggerated gestures and engaging unscrupulous and sarcastic language within short after he appears on the scene. “MOZART: Majesty! Your Majesty’s humble slave! Let me kiss your royal hand a hundred thousand times! He kisses it greedily, over and over, until its owner withdraws it with embarrassment.” (Shaffer “Amadeus” 22-23) This way, however, he clearly reflects the speech of the representatives around His Majesty themselves, a language full of 'chittero - chattero' Italian terms, French expressions and mutilation of standard German. Primarily, it is the form of the noble communicative utterance that appears to Mozart as unbearable. At the same time, his self-presentation draws a caricature of the society that is obviously not ready to receive immediate signals of their own ridiculousness. He appears too direct in opinions and stiff in attitudes to be admitted by the Viennese aristocracy, too bright and unaffected to attend any pseudo-sophisticated discussions about music, as well as dangerously disarming to be within a company with anyone willing to talk to him (Shaffer “Longman” xvi). Especially Salieri sees his rival as a freak of nature, addressing him a Creature by which he deprives him of any human virtues.

Shit-talking Mozart’ he may be to the outraged Salieri, but he is also a fresh breeze blowing through the rarified atmosphere of the salons and opera houses. Though he can match the pseudo-sophisticated foreign talk of the courties, he is more obviously at home with the nursery games and the homely Austrianism he shares with his ‘botty-smacking wife’. He is a straight talker: forthright in his attitudes, downright in his opinions, careless over aggravating others, oblivious of the offence he causes – unlike Salieri or Strack or van Swieten with their discreet reserve. (Shaffer “Longman” xvi)

Aware of his uniqueness, Mozart offers himself as a selling article, not bound to anyone, even to God himself as Salieri is. He is just the son of one Kapellmeister3 from a small town of Salzburg yet the creator of divine music, the Magic Flute as Salieri states in his analogy of Mozart’s music.

Mozart’s clash with so-called enlightened society of his day raises some important issues. He cannot, after all, help being either who or what he is: unvarnished son of a small-town Kapellmeister – yes – but also (to use Salieri’s words) ‘a voice of God’, the Magic Flute through whom is breathed a music so sublime that it cannot fail to survive in a world where most else must inevitably pass away. He cannot be the one without being the other – but that does not stop society demanding that he should. (Shaffer “Longman” xvii)

It ought to be, however, considered that Mozart's manners of public presentation, physical appearance and even his music comprise secondary elements in the drama. The prime, covert purpose is to shape the character of Salieri, moving from reserved refinement, over the first shock of meeting with Mozart's compositions to the humiliation and degradation of his own musical patterns. His post as Court Composer and whole life work suddenly suffer a loss on their importance and towards the end his existence obtains a rough expression of a crushed, poor fellow, a portrayal of a pitiful old man on the verge of death. Mozart’s attributes are, on the other hand, like a light that illuminates the shadowy stereotypes and Salieri’s hypocrisy.

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