‘Amadeus Live’ with the San Francisco Symphony Review – Mesmerizing

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Reviewed By Marsha Felton

Visually and Musically Mesmerizing… ’Amadeus Live’ with the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus!

Lucky me! I am writing my first review of a major movie accompanied by a live orchestra performance, an unforgettable evening at the stunning Davies Symphony Hall for ‘Amadeus Live’ with the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus on April 16, 2018…the last of three sellout performances.

Q: What is “Amadeus Live”? The film Amadeus is projected on a vast HD-screen above the stage, as the soundtrack is performed live by the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus.

The Film

One summary of Amadeus: It was directed by Miloš Forman and released in 1984, a soaring celebration of the incomparable music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The film tells the story – fictionalized – of Vienna court composer Antonio Salieri and the envy that consumes him upon discovering that divine musical gifts he has longed for all his life have instead been bestowed on a bawdy, vulgar and impish young composer – Mozart. Salieri’s envy fuels his plot to destroy Mozart, all the while unable to tear himself away from the genius of his music.

Amadeus on the movie screen

The trailer for Amadeus closes with: “The Man, The Music, The Magic, The Madness, The Murder, The Mystery… everything you’ve heard is true…” It has humor, it’s a beautiful love story and a poignant tragedy. The marriage between “Wolfie” and his wife “Stanzi” was romantic, passionate, exuberant, devotedly respectful. Mozart’s brilliance, irreverence, joyful, complicated life, then decline leading to his death at the age of 35 is the essence of the saying, “gone too soon.”

Amadeus swept the Academy Awards® with 8 wins, including for Best Picture, Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay.

“About as close to perfection as movies get.” (USA Today)


Film locations/re-creation of settings, costumes

This sumptuous period epic was shot on location in Forman’s native Czechoslovakia. It’s a feast of palaces, magnificent costumes, wigs, (loved Mozart’s pink one), opulent banquets, lavish opening nights. One of the most beautiful scenes was in Prague’s jewel-like Tyl Theater, where Mozart actually conducted his first performance of ‘Don Giovanni’ in 1787!

The Music

The original soundtrack to Amadeus is a phenomenal success to this day, one of the most popular classical music recordings of all time. Mozart is known as one of the finest composers the world has ever known. I love his music more than ever, cherished gifts for heart and soul…brings me profound pleasure and Gratitude. The music score contains some of the Mozart’s greatest work…to mention here: The Magic Flute, Symphony No.25 in G minor (opens the film…enchantingly lovely), Don Giovanni, (the score is also intermittent during the film), The Marriage of Figaro, The Queen of the Night (with a funny scene with his ‘shrew’ landlady transported to the Opera), Requiem in D minor, and closing Piano Concerto in D Minor…there were complexities that were amazing the way the orchestra and Choir performed exquisitely matching the particular pieces.

Two memorable musical scenes were: 1) watching Salieri furiously writing Mozart’s “Requiem…” as Mozart lay dying…Salieri’s miserable torture, as he experienced and understood better than anybody else how inadequate he was and how great Mozart was…(Again, here is a mostly fictionalized story) and 2) “Piano Concerto in D Minor…” as Mozart dies, immediate aftermath and then the credits start…it’d been over 3 hours since this experience began…I was filled with so many emotions…captivated, sad and exhilarated.

Constantine Kitsopoulos – Conductor, San Francisco Symphony

As my heading states, it was: Visually and Musically Mesmerizing! The extraordinarily talented orchestra, pianist and conductor totally in sync with the musical score performing below the screen. I admiringly viewed the Chorus’ magnificent, powerful voices; they were on a balcony to the side of screen.

Note: There was proud applause when the credits scrolled, as the San Francisco Symphony Chorus sang on the original soundtrack album!

Special Acknowledgement: Miloš Forman, the esteemed Director, died at the age of 86, just two days before I saw “Amadeus Live.” There was a photo tribute to him on the huge screen before the lights came up. He and Mozart have legacies that will never be forgotten and have enlightened my (and millions of others) life.

Constantine Kitsopoulos – Conductor, San Francisco Symphony

Keisuke Nakagoshi – Piano

Ragnar Bohlin, Director, San Francisco Symphony Chorus

Amadeus Live,’ one of San Francisco Symphony’s Film Series, is a production of Avex Classics International. (Next up, summer 2018: ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.)


Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California

Additional information can be found at the sfsymphony website

Photo credit: Courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony


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