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April 6 - 28, 2024 , Outcalt Theatre


written by Peter Shaffer
directed by Laura Gordon

Run time: TBD
Advisory: Mild profanity; sexual innuendo; a single scene of non-consensual physical touch; a single scene of seduction/sexual extortion; a single scene of physical violence to a woman; adultery. Recommended for ages 16+

It’s 1823, and a cacophony of scandalous whispers echo through the streets of Vienna. Renowned Italian composer Antonio Salieri flees from claims of murder but has nowhere to hide. While chasing fame and fortune, we learn how Salieri becomes obsessed with the rowdy young prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A deadly game of envy, deceit, and revenge ensues. Who will prevail? The villainous veteran or the worshipped wunderkind? Musical history is enlivened and re-imagined in Peter Shaffer’s award-winning parable about malice, madness, and the love of music.


Welcome to Inside CPH for Amadeus. Click the icons and verbs below for some ideas on how you can engage more deeply with the themes and ideas of the play beyond the performance.

Special THANKS to our Engagment Partners for our 2023-24 Season!

Our partners include:

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What is your favorite style or genre of music - or who are some of your favorite musical artists? How does that music make you feel? What does it make you think about? Do you have any special memories or events associated with that music? Have you ever shared that music with anyone special to you?

Have you ever had a rival or nemesis? What made them an antagonist or enemy to you? What sort of feelings did you have toward them - jealousy, envy, disappointment, bitterness, revenge, or something else? How did you respond to them - with retaliation, with an attempt to make peace, or did you just ignore and move on?

As you think about history and contemplate going back in time, what time period would you like to return to if you could? What historical events would you like to be a part of, and why? Which historical figures would you like to meet - and what might you ask them?


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A Play with Six Endings

Amadeus was first written and performed in London in 1979, transferred to Broadway in 1980, was made into a movie, and was then revived in 1998 in London before transferring again to Broadway. A lot of things can change when a play transfers or is revived and re-worked. In the case of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, one scene in particular underwent many metamorphoses that hugely shifted the trajectory of the play’s primary characters. This scene in question, and subsequent evolution, was Mozart's and Salieri’s final meeting in the play. Shaffer didn’t just adjust this scene once, twice, or even three times. This scene has flourished over the course of SIX evolutions! Check out each version below.



Ending #1: “THE OG”

Context: The production is a smash hit during its run in London, but Shaffer knows this epic story isn’t quite right.

The Scene: Mozart receives an anonymous commission to write the Requiem Mass - a mission that consumes him. His obsession over this scoring of death initiates an early mental and physical deterioration that breaks the man and brings him to his mortal demise.

In this way, the entirety of the play serves as Salieri’s atonement and testimony to address the world’s accusations of him as Mozart’s poisoner - adamant of his innocence while still somewhat guilty for his own heated jealousy.

Reason for Change: Salieri was too removed from Mozart’s demise. His guilt and culpability weren’t tied to the rising action and climax of this epic tale, putting Salieri in a position of second chair to an anonymous commissioner and a skeletal valet who extends the commission to Mozart. Mozart’s deteriorating state comes across happenstance and disconnected to the journey built throughout the play.


Content: Ian McKellan is a smash hit in the play’s 1980 Broadway debut, but Shaffer feels that Salieri’s need for atonement steals away from his delicious villainy; and Shafer wants to put Salieri’s hand further into the pot of culpability for Mozart’s demise. This fresh take on the scene would capitalize on the tragedy of this melodrama, with an unhinged and spiraling Salieri rather than a waffling moralistic one.

The Scene: Instead of seeking atonement, Salieri will seek any taste for the world-wide fame of Mozart’s life and oeuvre (even if it is in villainy that he is made famous). Salieri hires a valet to commission Mozart to write the Requiem Mass - a commission that incites Mozart’s mental instability and spurs him to have foreboding dreams of a darkly cloaked paternal spirit of death who would then be made physical by a masked and cloaked Salieri.

Fun facts:

  • This is the first time that the music of the Requiem Mass was used in the scene.
  • This final scene was being rewritten daily for Ian McKellan and Tim Curry with Peter Hall’s direction to rehearse for just a couple of hours before delivering it to a new audience that night.

Reason for Change: Abandoning the entire theme of atonement betrays the humanity and depth of Salieri’s journey. Additionally, there’s no way for Salieri to knowingly predict that commissioning the Requiem would cause Mozart to spiral. The act of having his well-known valet be the one to commission Mozart, in addition to Salieri’s personal stalking of Mozart’s apartment as the cloaked spectre, was far too public and ostentatious for it to go unnoticed by a larger public. It had lots of splashy spectacle, but it needed to be grounded by the rules set by the world of the play.

Ending #3: “Lights. Camera. Music.”

Context: When adapting the play for the movie in 1984, the Broadway ending was thought to be far too theatrically-dependent to work on screen.

The Scene: An unhinged Salieri will attempt to steal the Requiem Mass and pass it off as his own. Shaffer’s screen adaptation avoids a murderously heavy-handed Salieri by removing the need to kill Mozart outright. Instead, Mozart collapses and his deteriorating health would necessitate his own desire to dictate the piece with haste to a vulturing Salieri before he succumbs to illness. From his deathbed, Mozart dictates the score of the Requiem Mass to Salieri who transcribes the notation onto paper. Cinematographically, the music plays the major role - powerful chords and tones building tension amidst an otherwise very still scene. On screen, it is more than enough.

Reason for Change: The ending only works when there are closeup shots, and the stage requires something more.

Ending #4: “Back to Black”

Context: The production was being mounted at the Stratford Festival in 1997. Trying to adapt the collapse of Mozart’s health in a more theatrical way would involve other more strenuous plot alterations that did not interest Shaffer. Instead he resurrected the masked and cloaked figure.

The Scene: A gentle blend of endings #2 and #1 where the cloaked spectre returns but in such a way that deepens Salieri’s complexity and humanity.

Reason for Change: Shaffer was unsatisfied with the clarity of the revision knowing there were greater depths to mine for Salieri at the end of the play.

Ending #5: “Warmer…Warmer”

Context: The play is being remounted in London in 1998, and at last Shaffer knows there is a way to get this pinnacle scene exactly the way he wants it.

The Scene: Very similar to the one we have today: Salieri has culpability but also a grave need for atonement. It retains the melodrama of a cloaked figure pointing to the clock that terrorizes the quickly deteriorating Mozart as he rushes to finish his masterpiece.

Reason for Change: Changes from here can be attributed to the fine tuning merits of getting another Broadway transfer and having more time with a creative and production team to really iron out the last of the wrinkles.

Ending #6: “Solving the Equation”

Context: Now returning to Broadway, it’s time to solve this 20 year long equation.

The Scene: The scene we have today, retaining the shock and spectacle of #2 and the melodrama that has been building through all the versions: Salieri eats the page of the Requiem Mass - his own poison in concert with Mozart’s deterioration while the Requiem plays. The perfect combo of spectacle, humanity, and villainy having found their climax. Additionally, Shaffer adds more to the journey of Salieri’s quest for atonement. After having such an epic journey in dire straits against the fame of a rising Mozart, Sallieri felt the conversion of Salieri seeking absolution was summoned too quickly - the play required a greater balance of time and pacing to let the concluding events land with appropriately timed blows. Shaffer extended the play substantially to avoid rushing the cathartic lessons of this monumental work.

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Our Engagement Partners at The Cleveland Orchestra have something spectacular in store this May. Visit Mozart’s masterpiece fully realized at the Mandel Concert Hall within Cleveland’s Severance Music Center.


About Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE

One of the greatest operas ever written, Mozart’s timeless classic is about the search for truth and reason, love and enlightenment, and how power is used for good or evil purposes. Staged with imaginatively designed puppets, The Magic Flute draws us into a world where a prince, Tamino, and a princess, Pamina, triumph over every obstacle in their search for wisdom and are finally united in love. Throughout their journey, audiences are delighted with the lovers’ soulful arias, the stratospheric vocal fireworks of the villainous Queen of the Night, the subterranean depths of the formidable high priest Sarastro, and the comic melodies of the lovable bird catcher, Papageno.

Performed as part of the 2024 Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival.

Staged production sung in German with projected supertitles.

The German Cultural One-Stop Shop

Are you craving some authentic Austrian culture? Look no further than our friends and partners at Donauschwaben German-American Cultural Center. They’ve got it all - food, music, dancing, language classes, all sorts of groups and activities to CHECK IT OUT!

And be sure to join us BEFORE THE SHOW on 4/24 in the Outcalt Theatre Lobby at 6:30pm, where we’ll be hosting a pre-show celebration of German culture before fully immersing ourselves into the world of 1780’s Vienna.


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DJ Maestro!

Collaborate and compose a playlist with us to keep this play resonating beyond the theatre.

Maybe classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries is your jam, and maybe you’re looking for something that feels a little more 2024. We’ve got a public playlist inspired by the themes in Amadeus, and we want your help building it. If you’ve got Spotify, check out our “CPH Amadeus Public” playlist and add your own songs that speak to the characters and ideas in this show.

When you’ve added a song, take a screenshot of the album art, put it in your story, and tag it with #CPHAmadeus and #DJMaestro.


experience experience

“And-a-one, and-a-two-”


Peter Shaffer’s thrilling play and Laura Gordon’s direction bring audiences up close and personal with the musical genius of Woflgang Amadeus Mozart. Instead of using this space to teach you how to play the Harpsichord and compose world-changing orchestral pieces (trust us, it was a strong second choice), we’d like to offer a little insight into the art of conducting with this brief guide. Maybe if you’re so inclined and have a good ear, you can conduct along to whatever’s playing around you or maybe during your daily commutes (just keep at least one hand on the wheel). In just a few sweeps of the hand, you’ll find yourself to be a budding maestro in the making.

But what does a conductor actually do?

Their work is two-fold:

1. Mechanically speaking - they keep time, and

2. They evoke the expressive quality of the music through their gestures.

The first part requires a good ear to hear the time signature of the piece. The time signature indicates how many beats there are per measure within the music.

If you listen to Polka Music or most nursery songs like “Wheels on the Bus,” you’re listening to music that is written in 2/4 time. That means that there are two beats per measure and that a quarter note gets the value of one beat. Audibly, that means that you can hear one softer beat and one stronger beat.

To scan it out:

(1)The (2)Wheels (1)on the (2)bus (1)go (2)round (1)and (2)round [(1) breath]

Just below is a picture of how to move your hand per beat: moving down to the right on 1 and then swooping back up to the starting position on 2.


If you listen to most any waltz music, see if you can hear a clear 3/4 time signature: 3 beats per measure, with a quarter note earning the value of a single beat. Conducting in 3/4 time would follow the pattern as the diagram shown below. Down on 1, out on 2, up to starting position on 3 in a sort of triangle.


Songs written in 3/4:

  • “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
  • “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish
  • “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls
  • “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys

A lot of music has a strong 4/4 time signature, where there are four beats per measure and a quarter note gets the value of one beat. The pattern below shows how to conduct such a time signature. Down on 1, out on 2, across on 3, up to starting position on 4.


Songs written in 4/4:

  • “Let it Be” by the Beatles
  • “Firework” by Katie Perry
  • “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars

CPH Donor Generosity is Worthy of a Curtain Call!

CPH Donor Generosity is Worthy of a Curtain Call!

CPH Donor Generosity is Worthy of a Curtain Call! We have been honored by the outpouring of support we have received from you in reaction to this cri...

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Our Theatres

Allen Theatre

Allen Theatre

Helen Theatre

Helen Theatre

Outcalt Theatre

Outcalt Theatre

The Allen, Helen and Outcalt theatres are located at Playhouse Square
1407 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115

Administrative Offices and Education Center
1901 E. 13th Street, Suite 200 Cleveland, OH 44114 (216) 400-7000

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7401 Detour Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103