3.2 Deletions and additions
In order to arrive at a cinematic version of Amadeus, Shaffer and Forman were compelled to rewrite the play completely. Peter Shaffer even considers his script not an adaptation, but a parallel work (cf. Kamm, 15). In the process of reworking, it became necessary to remove some elements from the play, and then to fill the gaps resulting from the cuts. The result is that the focus of the film is shifted slightly from Salieri onto Mozart, and the whole drama becomes less of a psychological analysis and more of a fascinating story.
The deletions concerned, among others, Shaffer's operatic devices such as the two Venticelli. In the play, they function as a chorus informing the audience -- as well as Salieri -- of what cannot be shown on stage directly. In the film, such a device is not necessary, as the camera can simply show the described scenes. An example of this replacement is the scene of Mozart's marriage. In the play, the Venticelli tell Salieri that Mozart has married and that his father will be furious at the news (cf. Play, 39). Instead of this, Forman shows Mozart and Constanze standing together before the altar. In the following shot, we see Leopold Mozart reading his son's letter with the news of the marriage, and crushing it violently. The conveyed message is the same, but the methods are characteristic of theatre and cinema respectively. A character added as a realistic replacement for the Venticelli is the servant girl Lorl whom Salieri hires to work at the Mozarts' household and to spy on them. She is now the one who provides information about Mozart's financial affairs, his domestic life, and his work.
An important deletion is Salieri's seduction of Constanze. In the play, Salieri wants to seduce her in order to humiliate his rival, but when Constanze offers herself to him, he is appalled at her vulgarity and rejects her. In the final draft of the screenplay, the seduction scene is extended and Salieri not only seduces Constanze, but also humiliates her deeply. In the film, however, the seduction is again only verbal, because after seeing Mozart's manuscripts Salieri is so overwhelmed that he does not think of his wife anymore. Salieri's own wife, Teresa, is also deleted in the film, where he is shown as strictly celibate.
Mozart's membership in the Masonic Lodge, which plays a very important role in the play, is another element that has been completely removed. In the play, the Masons accept Mozart as a fellow brother and support him financially when he is bankrupt. Before this background, Salieri's intrigue concerning The Magic Flute is both vile and ingenious. Knowing that Mozart is a member of the Masons, Salieri uses this fact to his own benefit and to the detriment of Mozart's opera. Advised by Salieri, Mozart puts Masonic elements into The Magic Flute, and thereby arouses the wrath of his fellow Masons. Consequently, he is expelled from the Lodge and is completely ruined financially. The film ignores the Masonic elements of the play altogether. The reason for this may have been the wish to keep the film easily accessible to an audience not familiar with this aspect of European culture, or not to make it too complicated by introducing too many subplots. Be that as it may, without the Masonic context, some elements of the film become ambiguous, for instance Mozart's burial ceremony, or the symbolism of The Magic Flute.
Another character who is removed in the film version aside from Teresa Salieri is Baroness von Waldstädten, who does not even appear on stage and whose only function is to provide sweets for Salieri and a library for various encounters. In the film, the first encounter between Mozart and Salieri is simply transferred to the library in the Palace of the Archbishop. This is another example of removing unnecessary parts from the film. The alternative would be to expand the character of the Baroness and let her play a more important part in the course of events.
On the other hand, many scenes were added in order to make the film more realistic, to "flesh out some scenes" (Shaffer, quoted from Kamm). The most important additions concern Mozart's father Leopold and the relationship between them as well as between Leopold and Constanze. In the play, Mozart's father does not appear at all, except in the commentaries of the two Venticelli. The film develops Mozart's family relationships showing Leopold in Salzburg and his position at the Archbishop's court, as well as his visit to Vienna, his quarrel with Constanze, and the final break between father and son. This allows a much clearer picture of the influence that the masked figure has over Mozart than is given in the stage version of Amadeus. In the play, it is only through Salieri's realisation that the audience understands Mozart's emotional dependence on his father and his feeling of guilt towards him. In the film, we can see the relationship develop before our eyes, which permits us a better understanding of Mozart as a man. Moreover, some scenes at the Archbishop's court are added to show the servant status of an eighteenth-century musician and Mozart's lack of conformity.
Further scenes that exist in the play only as drafts or hints are expanded and refined. The most important of these scenes are fragments of Mozart's operas performed on stage. In the theatre, it was only possible to show the audience and play fragments of arias in the background, whereas in the film we can see a live performance as well as the audience and hear the music in accordance with the action on stage. Similarly, the vaudeville scenes at Emanuel Schikaneder's theatre underline Mozart's popularity and his ability to write popular tunes. In this way, it was possible to give the audience a better idea of Mozart's musical genius. The use of opera fragments is one the most valuable features of the film, contributing to its success with audiences worldwide.
The final draft of the screenplay that resulted from the secluded co-operation of the two authors still turned out to be much too long. Consequently, some of the scenes added in the screenplay had to be deleted again from the film. Those episodes include a long subplot with Herr Schlumberg (a merchant whose daughter Mozart was to teach), Constanze's relationship with her mother with whom she talks about her husband, as well as many minor dialogues.