Amadeus

Press Reviews

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  1. The Independent ★★★★★ (Paul Taylor)
    "Southbank Sinfonia are integrated into the world of the play to stunning effect in this regard. In modern black mufti, they can easily become a chorus that comments on the action in wheezing anachronistic discords or in clambering mime. The play dramatises the consequences of the momentous impact that hearing Mozart's sublime music made on the “patron saint of mediocrity”. Giving the musicians such a live central presence allows the production to present that impact as like a physical and metaphysical assault."
  2. The Sunday Times ★★★★★
    “Why has no one used a live orchestra in Amadeus before? Cost, obviously — but letting Peter Shaffer’s play swim in music gives it a new profundity. Music is the kingdom where Mozart lives and where his rival composer Salieri has only a visitor’s pass. For Salieri, music is everything: aspiration, torment, mockery. So, in Michael Longhurst’s production, the youthful Southbank Sinfonia not only play heart-stopping melodies from Figaro or The Magic Flute, but lick sticky fingers alongside the pastry-guzzling Salieri, lap like waves around him as his undeserved fame grows, and party like it’s 1789. In the play’s most famous scene — when Mozart transforms Salieri’s apathetic march into Figaro’s irresistible aria — the musicians creep on from the wings, thrilled by what they hear."
  3. The Telegraph ★★★★★ (Dominic Cavendish)
    “The most striking aspect of the evening – which rushes by, despite being three hours long – is that the production harnesses the Southbank Sinfonia to play the music we usually hear in pre-recorded bursts. More than that, the ensemble of musicians forms an integral part of the action"
  4. The Independent ★★★★★ (Michael Church)
    "Equal partner with the NT actors is the Southbank Sinfonia, a hugely talented young ensemble whose performances are always theatrical... I and my companion left with the Requiem ringing in our ears and, accompanied by visions of its newly reincarnated creator, it rang for much of the night."
  5. The Times ★★★★
    “No pressure then, I thought, as I saw musicians from Southbank Sinfonia, dressed in modern black clothes, gather on the gargantuan Olivier stage. These 21 musicians are the backbone of this production,scattering and re-forming throughout, like some sort of murmuration of musically gifted starlings. The ingenious set, designed by Chloe Lamford, is so versatile that the centre occasionally drops out of it to create an orchestra pit. At other times, the musicians stroll around, flitting here and there,sometimes playing a single flute melody, other times a rich opera, to help to tell this story.”
  6. The Guardian ★★★★ (Michael Billington)
    “Musicians are thrust centre stage to epic effect in Michael Longhurst’s revival... What is startling about Longhurst’s production is that the band is fully integrated into the dramatic action. As Lucian Msamati’s Salieri strikes a bargain with God to live a virtuous life in exchange for fame, the onstage orchestra bow their heads in silent prayer. At other times, the players are more mutinous:when Salieri proudly refers to his opera, The Stolen Bucket, they disdain his plea to offer an excerpt."
  7. The Guardian ★★★ (Susannah Clapp)
    "It has one marvellous innovation. The black-clad members of the Southbank Sinfonia move around the action as they play Mozart. It is as if the composer’s inky notes had taken human form.”
  8. The New York Times
    “Mr. Longhurst also brings on to the Olivier stage an actual orchestra, the Southbank Sinfonia, whose playing weaves in and among the action rather than sitting sedately to one side ... Throughout the production, the Sinfonia plays multiple extracts from Mozart, occupying the capacious stage like a restless organism that cannot itself be stilled.”
  9. The Hollywood Reporter
    “Michael Longhurst’s most inspired innovation is merging the 21-piece Southbank Sinfonia and six singers into the large ensemble cast, literally putting the music center stage. This amplifies the sense of 18th century Vienna as a bustling, gossipy, immersive artistic hothouse rather than a historically remote cultural museum.”
  10. TimeOut ★★★★★
    “The audacious decision to have an actual full-on orchestra– the Southbank Sinfonia – wandering the stage playing the greatest hits of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart does not overpower the titanic human struggle at the centre of Michael Longhurst's stupendous revival of the late Peter Shaffer’s ‘Amadeus’.”
  11. The Stage ★★★★★
    “Longhurst’s production contains some bravura moments,musical and visual. The Southbank Sinfonia (who also performed at the National in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour) is brilliantly integrated into the world of the play. The musicians bring their instruments on to begin with and become part of the fabric of the production rather than just playing the background.”
  12. Evening Standard ★★★★
    "Whereas Peter Hall’s original production used music sparingly, Longhurst makes a point of integrating it into the action onstage. There are 20 musicians, members of the Southbank Sinfonia, and their presence, together with some acrobatic singing— especially by Fleur de Bray as Salieri’s favourite soprano — means that we get a keen sense of Mozart in the very midst of creating a masterpiece.”
  13. Radio Times ★★★★
    "As befits a play about one of the greatest composers of all time, the music is wonderful and the Southbank Sinfonia is a key part of the action. The orchestra is on stage much of the time, playing extras as well as providing the soundtrack, which skips seamlessly from Mozart's greatest hits to pumping party tracks."
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