Michael Sheen’s Amadeus is so dazzling that he disappears while we cheer for his evil

Acclaimed Welsh actor Michael Sheen plays the role of Antonio Salieri in the Sydney Opera House production of Amadeus.

Acclaimed Welsh actor Michael Sheen plays the role of Antonio Salieri in the Sydney Opera House production of Amadeus.
Credit:Stefan Siewert

THEATRE

AMADEUS ★★★★

Concert Hall, 30.12

Until January 21st

After playing Mozart in London and New York in 1999, Michael Sheen slips into Salieri’s sleeves and trousers so completely that he disappears. The Welsh actor famous for playing Tony Blair or Bill Masters is nowhere to be seen; just the poisonous stew of jealousy, hatred, and flattering mediocrity that is Antonio Salieri, court composer to Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

The feat of Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play was to make artistic envy so poisonous and all-consuming that it rivaled Othello’s sexual jealousy. Unlike the court and the public, Salieri, the leading composer of his time, knew deep down that Mozart’s music was infinitely superior to his own. In his scheme of things, it is touched by God when he prayed to be God’s voice on earth itself and had dared to believe that he was. But what he’s hearing now is enlightening to a mind already wedged in that mediocrity.

The challenge for the Salieri actor is that instead of putting all our compassionate eggs in Mozart’s basket or that of his wife Constanze, we must take care of his predicament. Sheen more than lives up to this challenge. He gives us a Salieri so full and round that we almost annoy the upstart Mozart himself; that we get caught at every word, even though we know—in a triumph of the most deliciously dramatic irony—that most of what escapes Salieri’s lips is twisted and fabricated.

Sheen has so finely tuned the cadences of his lines that one seems to physically lean forward to take it all in, while maximizing the meaning of each syllable (not to mention the wit) without ever striving for impact.

Michael Sheen in Amadeus.

Michael Sheen in Amadeus.Credit:Stefan Siewert

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/theatre/michael-sheen-s-amadeus-so-dazzling-he-disappears-as-we-cheer-his-evil-20221231-p5c9ks.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Michael Sheen’s Amadeus is so dazzling that he disappears while we cheer for his evil

Jaclyn Diaz

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