Salieri: On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse - bassoons and basset horns - like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly - high above it - an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God.
[Salieri is wheelchaired through the insane asylum]
Salieri: Mediocrities everywhere... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you all.
Mozart: Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man! But I assure you, my music is not.
Salieri: All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing... and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?
[addressing a crucifix]
Salieri: From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able.
[to a priest]
Salieri: I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.
[Reflecting upon a Mozart score]
Salieri: I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink strokes - at an absolute beauty.
Salieri: My plan was so simple. It terrified me. First I must get the death mass and then, I must achieve his death.
Father Vogler: What?
Salieri: His funeral! Imagine it, the cathedral, all Vienna sitting there, his coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle, and then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart, composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity, what depth, what passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God is forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once in the end, laughing at him!
Salieri: The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that? Hmmm? How does one kill a man? It's one thing to dream about it; very different when, when you, when you have to do it with your own hands.
Salieri: But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.
Emanuel Schikaneder: Look, I asked you if we could start rehearsals next week and you said yes.
Mozart: Well, we can.
Emanuel Schikaneder: So let me see it. Where is it?
Mozart: Here. It's all right here in my noodle. The rest is just scribbling. Scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbling.
Mozart: I actually threw the score on the fire, he made me so angry.
Salieri: You burned the score?
Mozart: No, no. My wife took it out in time.
Salieri: I heard the music of true forgiveness filling the theater, conferring on all who sat there, perfect absolution. God was singing through this little man to all the world, unstoppable, making my defeat more bitter with every passing bar.
[addressing the complaints about the "improper" libretto for "Figaro"]
Mozart: Come on now, be honest! Which one of you wouldn't rather listen to his hairdresser than Hercules? Or Horatius, or Orpheus... people so lofty they sound as if they shit marble!
Salieri: While my father prayed earnestly to God to protect commerce, I would offer up secretly the proudest prayer a boy could think of: Lord, make me a great composer. Let me celebrate Your glory through music and be celebrated myself. Make me famous through the world, dear God. Make me immortal. After I die, let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote. In return, I will give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life, Amen.
[Having played two pieces of music to the priest, who doesn't recognize either]
Salieri: Can you remember no melody of mine? I was the most famous composer in Europe. I wrote 40 operas alone.
Salieri: Leave me alone.
Father Vogler: I cannot leave alone a soul in pain.
Salieri: Do you know who I am?
Father Vogler: It makes no difference. All men are equal in God's eyes.
Salieri: [leans in mockingly] *Are* they?
Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.
Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
Salieri: Are you sure you can't leave these and, and come back again?
Constanze Mozart: It's very tempting sir, but it's impossible, I'm afraid. Wolfgang would be frantic if he found those were missing, you see they're all originals.
Constanze Mozart: Yes, sir, he doesn't make copies.
Salieri: These, are originals?
Salieri: He was my idol. Mozart, I can't think of a time when I didn't know his name.
[trying on wigs]
Mozart: They're all so beautiful. Why don't I have three heads?
[the Emperor offers the sheet music of Salieri's welcome march to Mozart]
Mozart: Keep it Majesty, if you want. It's already here in my head.
Emperor Joseph II: What? On one hearing only?
Mozart: I think so, Sire, yes.
Emperor Joseph II: Show us.
Mozart: [speaking backwards] Say I'm sick. Say I'm sick!
Constanze Mozart: Yes, you are. You are very sick.
Mozart: [chuckling] No-ho-ho! Say it backwards, shit-wit!
Constanze Mozart: Stop it!
Mozart: I am stopping it! Slowly. There? See? I've stopped. Now we're going back.
Constanze Mozart: No!
Mozart: Yes, yes! You don't know where you are! Here, everything goes backwards. People walk backwards, dance backwards, sing backwards, and even talk backwards.
Constanze Mozart: That's sssstupid.
Mozart: Why? People fart backwards.
Constanze Mozart: No. I'm not going to marry you. You're a fiend!
Mozart: [speaking backwards] Ooy vol I tub. Ooy vol I tub!
Constanze Mozart: Tub, but. I. Vol, love... But I love you?
Mozart: [nods, mouths] I love you.
Salieri: Mozart, it was good of you to come!
Mozart: How could I not?
Salieri: How... Did my work please you?
Mozart: [hesitantly] I never knew that music like that was possible!
Salieri: [uncertainly] You flatter me.
Mozart: No, no! One hears such sounds, and what can one say but... "Salieri."
Katerina Cavalieri: I heard you met Herr Mozart.
Salieri: News travels fast in Vienna.
Katerina Cavalieri: And he's been commissioned to write an opera. Is it true?
Katerina Cavalieri: Is there a part in it for me?
Katerina Cavalieri: How do you know?
Salieri: Do you know where it's set, my dear?
Katerina Cavalieri: No.
Salieri: In a harem.
Katerina Cavalieri: What's that?
Salieri: A brothel!
Katerina Cavalieri: Oh-h-h-h.
Salieri: Come. Let's begin.
Katerina Cavalieri: What does he look like?
Salieri: Mozart? You might be disappointed.
Katerina Cavalieri: Why?
Salieri: Looks and talent don't always go together, Katerina
Katerina Cavalieri: Looks don't concern me, maestro. Only talent interests a woman of taste.
Mozart: "Confutatis maledictis" - when the wicked are confounded. "Flammis Acribus Adictis." How would you translate that?
Salieri: Consigned to flames of woe.
Mozart: Do you believe in it?
Mozart: A fire which never dies, burning you forever?
Salieri: Oh yes.
Salieri: Your... merciful God. He destroyed His own beloved, rather than let a mediocrity share in the smallest part of His glory.
[about Emperor Joseph II's musical tastes]
Salieri: Actually, the man had no ear at all. But what did it matter? He adored my music.
Katerina Cavalieri: Looks don't concern me, Maestro. Only talent interests a woman of taste.
[Mozart loses at musical chairs]
Emanuel Schikaneder: Herr Mozart, why don't you name your son's penalty?
Mozart: Yes, Papa. Name it. Name it, I'll do anything you say. Anything.
Leopold Mozart: I want you to come back to Salzburg with me, my son.
Mozart: Papa, the rule is you can only give a penalty that can be performed in the room.
Leopold Mozart: I'm tired of this game, I don't want to play anymore.
Mozart: But my penalty!
[jumping up and down like an angry child]
Mozart: I've got to have a penalty!
Mozart: Why must I submit samples of my work to some stupid committee just to teach a thirteen-year-old girl?
Count Von Strack: Because His Majesty wishes it.
Mozart: Is the emperor angry with me?
Count Von Strack: Quite the contrary.
Mozart: Then why doesn't he simply appoint me to the post?
Count Von Strack: Mozart, you are not the *only* composer in Vienna.
Mozart: No. But I'm the best!
Mozart: [of his great opera, "Figaro"] Nine performances! Nine, that's all it's had! And withdrawn!
Salieri: I know, I know, it's outrageous. Still, if the public doesn't like one's work, one has to accept the fact gracefully.
Mozart: But what is it that they don't like?
Salieri: I can speak for the Emperor. You make too many demands on the royal ear. The poor man can't concentrate for more than an hour... you gave him four.
Mozart: What did you think of it yourself? Did you like it at all?
Salieri: I thought it was marvelous.
Mozart: Of course! It's the best opera yet written, I know it... why didn't they come?
Salieri: I think you overestimate our dear Viennese, my friend. You know you didn't even give them a good *bang* at the end of songs, to let them know when to clap?
Mozart: I know, I know... maybe you should give me some lessons in that.
Mozart: [about the royal composer's position he did not get] Whom did they choose?
Salieri: Herr Zummer.
Mozart: Herr Zummer? But the man's a fool, he's a total mediocrity!
Salieri: No, no, he has yet to achieve mediocrity.
Mozart: It's unbelievable, the director has actually torn up a huge section of my music. They say I have to rewrite the opera. But it's perfect as it is! I can't rewrite what's perfect!
Constanze Mozart: Wolfie, I think you really are going mad. You work like a slave for that idiot actor who won't give you a penny. And here, this is not a ghost! This is a real man who puts down real money. Why on earth won't you finish it? Can you give me one reason I can understand?
Mozart: It's killing me.
Salieri: Mozart! Mozart, forgive your assassin! I confess, I killed you...
Salieri: My father, he did not care for music. When I told him how I wished I could be like Mozart, he would say; "Why? Do you want to be a trained monkey? Would you like me to drag you around Europe, doing tricks like a circus freak?"
[Salieri chuckles ruefully]
Salieri: How could I tell *him*... what music meant to me?
Mozart: Sire, only opera can do this. In a play if more than one person speaks at the same time, it's just noise, no one can understand a word. But with opera, with music... with music you can have twenty individuals all talking at the same time, and it's not noise, it's a perfect harmony!
Mozart: I am fed to the teeth with elevated themes! Old dead legends! Why must we go on forever writing about gods and legends?
Baron Van Swieten: Because they do. They go on forever. Or at least what they represent. The eternal in us. Opera is here to enoble us. You and me, just the same as His Majesty.
Mozart: The whole thing is set in a harem, Majesty. In a seraglio.
Count Orsini-Rosenberg: You mean in Turkey?
Mozart: Yes, exactly.
Count Orsini-Rosenberg: Then why especially does it have to be in German?
Mozart: It doesn't, especially. It could be in Turkish if you really want.
Archbishop Colloredo: Your son is an unprincipled, spoiled, conceited brat!
Salieri: So rose the dreadful ghost from his next and blackest opera. There, on the stage, stood the figure of a dead commander. And I knew, only I understood that the horrifying apparition was Leopold raised from the dead! Wolfgang had summoned up his own father to accuse his son before all the world!
Salieri: That was Mozart. That! That giggling dirty-minded creature I had just seen, crawling on the floor!
Salieri: The restored third act was bold, brilliant. The fourth... was astounding.
Salieri: Through my influence, I saw to it that Don Giovanni was played only five times in Vienna. But in secret, I went to every one of those five. Worshipping sounds I alone seemed to hear.
Constanze Mozart: What are you doing here?
Salieri: Your husband took ill. I brought him home.
Constanze Mozart: But why you?
Salieri: Because, madam, I was at hand.
Emanuel Schikaneder: What's so intelligent about writing a Requiem mass?
Salieri: That was God laughing at me. Through that obscene giggle...
Salieri: So rose the dreadful ghost from his next and blackest opera, there on the stage stood the figure of a dead commander and I knew, only I understood that the horrifying aparition was Leopold, raised from the dead. ::the opera continues:: Wolfgang had actually summoned up his own father to accuse his son before all the world. It was terrifying and wonderful to watch ::the opera continues:: And now the madness began in me. The madness of the man splitting in half. Through my influence, I saw to it Don Giovanni was played only five times in Vienna but in secret I went to every one of those five worshipping a sound that only I seemed to hear. ::the opera continues:: And as I stood there understanding how that bitter old man was still possessing his poor son even from beyond the grave. I began to see a way, a terrible way, I could finally triumph over God.
Emperor Joseph II: You are passionate, Mozart, but you do not persuade...
[after playing several selections of his music for Father Vogler, who is unfamiliar with any of them, Salieri smiles knowingly and plays the opening measure of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." Vogler instantly begins to hum along in surprised recognition]
Father Vogler: [smiling] Yes, I know that! Oh, that's charming! I'm sorry, I didn't know you wrote that.
Salieri: I didn't. That was Mozart. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Father Vogler: [smile fades] The man you accuse yourself of killing.
Count Orsini-Rosenberg: Italian is the proper language for opera. All educated people agree on that.
Salieri: Do you know who I am?
Father Vogler: It makes no difference. All men are equal in God's eyes.
Salieri: Are they?... Are they?
Emanuel Schikaneder: I'm paying these people, don't you understand? I'm paying them to wait while you do nothing!
Emanuel Schikaneder: Write it down, it's no good to anybody in your head.
Katerina Cavalieri: Is that woman still lying on the floor?
Constanze Mozart: [to Mozart's father] May I offer you some tea, Herr Mozart?
Mozart: Tea? Who wants tea? Let's go out! This calls for a feast. You don't want tea, do you, Papa?
Constanze Mozart: Wolfie...
Mozart: I know, let's go dancing! Papa loves parties, don't you?
Constanze Mozart: Wolfie!
Mozart: What? How can you be so boring? Tea...