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In the novel, Maskerade, The Artistic Director of the Opera was Mr. Salzella.  He was a very talented director but also an expert embezzler, something he got away with because of his position as director - as he kept telling Mr. Seldom Bucket,  the owner of the opera house, "Opera is expensive".  His name is a play on the words "Salt" and "seller" and a reference to Antonio Salieri (whose name means Seller of Salt) but also a play on "Cellar" (the basement of the opera house where the money he had embezzled from the Opera company was stashed).  He was retained by Mr. Bucket when Bucket left his flourishing dairy business and took over ownership of the Opera House. Along with Dr Undershaft the Chorus Master, Mr Salzella oversaw much of the artistic endeavour of the Opera.  

Salzella used the legend of the Opera Ghost to his advantage, keeping nosy people away from his horded stash in the cellar as well as taking on the Opera Ghost's persona and hiding behind the mask and the cape while going about his evil business.  He even used the very real sword to ruthlessly eliminate anyone who got to close to the truth.   Both Mr Pounder and  Dr Undershaft were disposed of when they caught him in the act, their deaths blamed on the Opera Ghost.  Unfortunately for Salzella Granny Weatherwax figured out what he was up to and he subsequently lost a duel to Granny in which he had the very real sword and she just had her pin-sharp mind.   At the end, Salzella proved to be just as "infected" with operatic romanticism as everyone else in the building and was killed in an extremely operatic duel with the "real" Ghost, Walter Plinge, spending two pages on a final dying monologue before keeling over. In reality, he only had a sword theatrically thrust under his armpit, but according to the witches present, failed to notice this.

After the death of Mr. Salzella, Walter Plinge is no longer the errand-running figure of fun whose mother worries about him but the new Director of Music at the Opera, although he continues to clean the toilets and sweep the theatre as before.


As stated above, Salzella is a  reference to the Roundworld  composer  Antonio Salieri whose surname means "seller of salt" (lit. Sal-s(z)ella). Salieri was an Italian classical composer, conductor and teacher born in the Republic of Venice, but who spent most of his adult life and career in Vienna as a faithful subject of the Habsburg Monarchy. He was a key figure in the development of late 18th century opera. He was one of the most important and sought after teachers of his generation and his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna's musical life. Schubert, Beethoven, and Liszt were among the most famous of his pupils and he was a lifelong friend of Mozart.

Salieri's music slowly disappeared from the repertoire between 1800 and 1868, and was rarely heard after that period until the revival of his fame in the late 20th century due to his dramatic and highly fictionalized depiction in the play and film Amadeus (1979, 1984) by Peter Shaffer in which he resents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's fame and talent. In reality he was his friend and supporter.