Scene It: Goldberg's 'Mozart and Salieri' a standing-ovation-worthy ballet

February 13, 2018

Choreographer Marc Goldberg’s new ballet Mozart and Salieri gives classical ballet a vivacious feel as it unpacks themes of jealousy, love, and manipulation through the kind of movement that makes you giggle one moment and wipe away tears the next. This ballet is a standing-ovation-worthy production of international standard.

One refreshing aspect of Mozart and Salieri is that Goldberg in the execution of his vision utilises the talent of every dancer in this Cape Town City Ballet troupe. Here you will not see the corps de ballet merely waving roses to-and-fro in the background with expressionless faces. Each dancer performs with equal passion, while the troupe collectively draws you into Alexander Pushkin’s 1830 poetic drama without a word being said —their (e)motion speaks volumes.

Although there are many incredible moments in this ballet, the movement that captures the tension that feeds the drama of it all, is the pas de deux between Mozart and Salieri. At that crucial point when the ambitious Mozart is at his lowest, having lost all that is important to him, and craving support, Salieri ensures his own ‘victory’ in this legendary battle of the egos. This magnificent dance-for-two sees the malevolent maestro and the gullible virtuoso in their final dance-off, with a devious manipulation of destiny at the centre of it all.

Building up to this climax, one sees the evolution of the relationships Mozart has with Salieri and with Constanze. The dancers in these roles perform each movement and expression with a clear sense of purpose and motivation. Goldberg’s ingenious choreography is complemented by impressive lighting (by Denis Hutcheson and Faheem Bardien) and edgy period-inspired costumes (by Alison Sischy-Smith, Jenny Stretch, and Mervyn Williams). But it is the animation by Pieter Steyn that brings a unique, colourful, and dancer-friendly ‘set’ to Mozart and Salieri. Along with the well-known compositions by Mozart, Steyn's designs make for a compelling backdrop to this ballet. Every (digital) scene-change is a fantastic surprise.

As a whole, the production is a mixture of elements that creates a vibrant cohesive ballet. This reveals that the creative team were aware of their complementary roles in giving expression to Goldberg’s vision. Art in all its facets finds expression in this production and elevates the dramatic essence of Mozart and Salieri. You may even spot a Salieri scene with a Van Gogh-inspired animation or a movement wonderfully reminiscent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam.


The performance on 11 February 2018 saw Martin Milner as Mozart, Anthony Maloney as Salieri, and Mariette Opperman as Constanze bring the audience to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation. These performers’ every movement and expression are motivated and purposeful in the phenomenal Mozart and Salieri. You have until 17 February 2018 to see this classical story with its modern-ballet twist at the Artscape Opera House, presented by Cape Town City Ballet. Book your tickets through Computicket.  



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