Last summer we first mentioned that Sir Elton John and Alan Ball (of SIX FEET UNDER, TRUE BLOOD and BANSHEE) were tooling around with the idea of creating a series in the vein of Amadeus. That concept has been taken one step further this past week when a pilot order has been issued by HBO.
VIRTUOSO seems to be the title that has stuck with the music drama which is about the cultivation of musical prodigies in 18th century Vienna, Austria. Again, the best example for us, is Amadeus. It is the play by Peter Shaffer that was adapted into the Oscar winning film by Milos Forman.
VIRTUOSO focuses on Antonio Salieri who runs the musical conservatory of the day and is played by actor Peter Macdissi (pictured left). Also appearing in the pilot are Iva Babic as Leonid, a Russian cello prodigy; Francois Civil as Isidoro, a Spanish guitar and flute prodigy; Lindsay Farris as Heinrich, an Austrian piano prodigy; Nico Mirallegro as Franz, an Austrian self-taught violin prodigy and Alex Lawther is Battista, an Italian castrato prodigy. The Vienna Academy of Musical Excellence was a real school in which students learned from established masters to define their artistic talents. The most successful may be approved an official court musician and/or be commissioned to create compositions for royalty and special occasions and thus paid for their creations. Antonio Salieri was one of the first directors of the conservancy.
The pilot is set to film in Budapest, Hungary and was penned by Alan Ball, based on a story by Ball, Macdissi and Steve Hamilton Shaw. As for Sir Elton John’s participation he is listed as executive producer, but surely may also serve as musical consultant and/or composer of some fresh classical style music for the project.
Sounds like an interesting period piece and we will follow it closely. Anyone intrigued?