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Poison years 

Arts council digs into centuries-old rivalry with Amadeus reading

click to enlarge Get tickled by Amadeus this weekend at the BAC.
  • Get tickled by Amadeus this weekend at the BAC.

On his deathbed, Antonio Salieri deliriously confessed to poisoning Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Though Mozart actually died of rheumatic fever, the idea of a rivalry between the two composers has sparked the imagination of multiple artists over the ensuing centuries.

As part of "Mozart @ 250," a yearlong celebration of Mozart's life and work, the Pikes Peak Arts Council is presenting a staged reading of one artist's work Peter Shaffer's award-winning play, Amadeus.

Eve Tilley, president of the Pikes Peak Arts Council, will direct the reading, having led a full-scale production of Amadeus just over 10 years ago. If you're foreign to the idea of a staged reading, Tilley describes it as that point in the preparation for a play where "everyone knows their relationship to the other characters. They just haven't had to memorize the lines."

In addition to live music by a virtuoso string quartet, 13 watercolors by Tilley's late father will be projected on a screen behind the actors to indicate setting. Tilley says these will be the only frills.

"People will wear a suggestion of a costume here and there, but mostly they'll be in ordinary street clothes," she says. "There won't be any fancy furniture or sets."

If you've only seen the film version by Milos Forman, you've missed some of the deeper artistic truths Amadeus has to offer. In the play, "Mozart and Constanza [his wife] are real people, rather than the caricatures that are portrayed in the movie," Tilley says. "You have to have sympathy for Mozart for there to be [any emotion] at all. ... There are some parts between Mozart and Constanza that will just break your heart, and some that will even make you laugh."

capsule

Staged reading of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, sponsored by Manitou Art Theater in collaboration with Pikes Peak Arts Council

Venue 515, Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave.

Friday, Sept. 15, and Saturday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 17, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $20, available in advance at 685-1861, 685-4729 or themat.org. Also available at the door.

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