Mozart Minute: Mozart and Salieri – From Russia With Love, Part 1
In the stage play and film Amadeus, the composer Antonio Salieri is portrayed as envious of the young Mozartâ€™s genius to the point of murder. But Amadeus the play and the film were not the first dramatic works to take up the theme of Salieriâ€™s envy.
An earlier work far less well known to us today was Rimsky-Korsakovâ€™s opera Mozart and Salieri, based on Pushkinâ€™s drama of the same name.Â
The opera unfolds a dialogue between the two title characters, covering various moments in their relationship, leading up to the end, when Mozart lies dying from poisoning, implicitly at Salieriâ€™s hands. In one of the operaâ€™s episodes, Mozart improvises at the keyboard; in another he tells Salieri the story of the mysterious man in black who commissioned him to compose a Requiem.
Of course, opera being opera, the Mozart character had to die in Rimskyâ€™s opera. Â But in the final scenes, thereâ€™s still a place for Mozartâ€™s immortal music.