Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Salieri, after a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, October, 1791” by Carolyn Martin, Poet of the Week. A brief biography of the poet may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-week-for.html.
Poet’s Notes: A poetry workshop assignment to watch the movie Amadeus inspired this poem. The teacher asked us to focus on the scene where Salieri sits in a balcony half-hidden by red drapes as he watches Mozart’s fiery performance. I must admit I played the famous coloratura’s aria from The Magic Flute over and over while writing this.
Editor’s Note: I enjoyed this treatment of the subject and was definitely reminded of when I saw the film Amadeus long ago. I strongly suggest that readers go here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2ODfuMMyss to cue up the coloratura’s aria and listen to it while reading the poem. The poem was originally published in Carolyn Martin, Finding Compass (Portland, OR: Queen of Wands Press, 2011).
Salieri, after a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute
at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, October, 1791
The cheap seats love the man.
Each night he lures them from slogging streets
into the pomp and pageantry of fairy tales
with music that makes the angels cry.
They love the oboes courting flutes, bassoons
entwined in clarinets; strings outracing
trombones, trumpets, tubas, horns
toward kettledrums shuddering the boards
beneath their feet. They care not for scores
or virtuosity. They want delight—
magic doors, scenes that fly,
finales—and more, und mehr.
I hide behind red drapes high
above the crowd, and watch them watch
the note-barrage shooting from his fingertips.
And when the coloratura soars
toward F above high C, I catch them catch
their breath before their “Bravos!”
seize the chandeliers where magic drips
from candle wax. The pulse-throb
of the aria vibrates my skin.
I want to cry. Divinity has voice.
But when the curtain falls
the deafening applause unhinges me.
“Encore! Encore!” reminds
this lesser child of God,
he’s fated second-best.
Heaven-hurt, I never could compose
so many notes across a page;
never could raise a mundane crowd
above its seats as that little man
with fire in his fingertips.