Sunday, October 4, 2009

My tongue is stupid. My heart isn't.

Tonight I saw a fantastic play. Probably the most beautifully written play I ever had the chance to see. The productions was spectacular, the acting was superb, but the writing... the writing is what made is amazing.

It's a pretty well known play... Amadeus by Peter Shaffer.

If you haven't seen the play, most people have seen the movie... I hadn't. I hadn't read the play, or seen the movie or honestly knew much about it.

The story is a memory play of sorts from the point of view of Antoni Salieri. One of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's contemporaries. Salieri recognizes the power and beauty of Mozart's work and the mediocrity of his own. In turn, Salieri sets out to destory Mozart's life, while continuous living in the idea that he will never have the weight and artistic power and prowess that Mozart has. He will always be... mediocre.

There were two major monologues from the play that struck me. And thank goodness, Emily had been in the play in high school and had the play handy for me to dissect and steal these magnificent quotes from.

Here they are. Just read them for what they are...

"Look at us! Four gaping mouths. What a perfect quartet! I'd love to write it - just this second of time, this now, as you are! Herr Chamberlain thinking: "Impertinent Mozart. I must speak to the Emperor at once!" Herr Prefect thinking: "Ignorant Mozart. Debasing opera with his bulgarity!" Herr Court Composer thinking: "German Mozart. What can he finally know about music?" And Mozart himself, in the middle thinking: "I'm just a good fellow. Why do they all disapprove of me?"

That's why opera is important, Baron. Because it's realer than any play! A dramatic poet would have to put all those thoughts down one after another to represent this second of time. The composer can put them all down at once- and still make us hear each one of them.

Astonishing device: a vocal quartet! I tell you I want to write a finale lasting half an hour! A quartet becoming a quintet becoming a sextet becoming a septet- an octet- a nonet! On and on, wider and wider- all sounds multiplying and rising together- and the Together making a sound entirely new! ...I bet you that's how God hears the world. Millions of sounds ascending at once and mixing in His ear to become an unending music. unimaginable to us! That's our job! That's our job! , we composers: to combine the inner minds of him and him and him and her and her- the thoughts of chambermaids and court composers- and turn the audience into God.

I'm sorry. I talk nonsense all day: it's incurable - ask Stanzerl. My tongue is stupid. My heart isn't."
~ Mozart, "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer


"I was born a pair of ears, and nothing else. It is only thorug hearing music that I know God exists. Only through writing music that I could worship... All around me men hunger for General Rights. I hungered only for particular notes. They seek Liberty for Mankind. I sought only slavery for myself. To be owned- ordered- exhausted by an Absolute. Music." ~ Salieri, "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer

I don't really have anything else to say. I could analyze them and all that, but for the moment... I just want to leave them as they are. They are beautiful, poetic, and honest.