Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story

In the play and movie Amadeus, Antonio Salieri is insanely jealous of Mozart, actively thwarts his musical opportunities in Vienna and encourages him to work to nervous exhaustion on his Requiem.

In real life, in his last (surviving) letter, Mozart wrote:

… at 6 o’clock I fetched Salieri and Madame [Catarina] Cavalieri with a carriage and took them to my box [in the theatre where The Magic Flute was being performed] … Salieri listened and watched with great attention, and from the overture all the way through to the final chorus there was not a single number that did not elicit from him a “bravo” or “bello”. He and Cavalieri went on and on thanking me for doing them such a great favour. [Robert Spaethling  (trans and ed), Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life, (2000)]

Of course, he just might have been faking it!

Wikipedia calls the play “a highly fictionalised account” and says that Peter Shaffer ”used artistic licence in his portrayals”. I haven’t found anything from Shaffer himself on the topic. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadeus#Historical_accuracy.)

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