I was struck by a thought while watching Jonathan Church's fine production at the newly-renovated Festival Theatre. Peter Shaffer's play is wonderfully appropriate for a world dominated by X Factor and reality TV: Salieri's realisation that his fame will be short-lived while his more talented rival will live forever is touchingly conveyed by Rupert Everett in a bravura performance that beautifully captures the jealousies of the composer for his younger rival.
Everett conveys the self-importance of the man; not talented enough to be remembered for his compositions now but talented enough to recognise genius. Everett's Salieri is not an outright villain but an all-too-human figure, mixing pride with jealousy with a topping of self-hatred - a rich a mixture as the Italian desserts that he so greedily consumes.
Only his transformation into the elderly Salieri jars a little; there's perhaps a bit too much vigour there for a man in his 70s, haunted by his actions of the past.
Everett's Salieri is well complemented by Joshua McGuire's potty-mouthed and irritating Mozart, stuffed with conceit, with full awareness of his genius but struggling in a Vienna music scene dominated by Italians.
While ostensibly the victim of Salieri's manoeuverings, McGuire leaves us with little sympathy for Mozart until a touching final scene with Salieri in which McGuire imbues the ailing composer with a humility lacking up to that point.
Simon Higlett's designs use the space of the transformed theatre superbly, and with generous lashings of Mozart's music scattered throughout, this is a wonderful production to open the new theatre.
One thing more - and it's only a very minor quibble - but surely with all the planning for a grand opening, the actors could have learned to pronounce the word "fräulein"? Perhaps Mozart was right: Germans aren't treated with enough respect.