“He was my idol. Mozart, I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know his name.” (Amadeus)
Now this is something to salivate over. Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood, American Beauty, Towelhead) has scored yet another HBO pilot; this time in collaboration with Elton John. The pair have joined to produce Virtuoso, a series set in 18th century Vienna, and centered on the musical prodigies attending its Academy of Musical Excellence. Though usually we might scoff at partner casting, in this case it’s another beautiful fit for Ball’s longtime collaborator, Peter Macdissi (Six Feet Under’s Olivier, True Blood’s Luis, Towelhead’s Rifat) — who’ll star as Antonio Salieri. I can’t think of a more delightful actor to follow in F. Murray Abraham’s shoes; the two share a certain ability to make any dialogue sound salacious.
Academy attendees under Salieri’s tutelage include Lindsay Farris (The Code, Primal) as Austrian piano prodigy, Heinrich, Francois Civil (As Above, So Below, Frank) as Spanish guitar and flautist, Isidoro, Iva Babic (One Shot) as Russian cellist, Leonid, Nico Mirallegro (The Village, Hollyoaks) as Austrian violin prodigy, Franz, and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) as Italian castrato, Battista.
Elton and his spouse, David Furnish will executive produce (as will Macdissi); Ball will direct. The pilot will be filmed this spring in Budapest.