Ascanio in Alba

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Work data
Original title: Ascanio in Alba
Shape: Serenata teatrale
Original language: Italian
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto : Abbate Giuseppe Parini
Premiere: October 17, 1771
Place of premiere: Teatro Regio Ducale , Milan
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: in the landscape of Alba, populated by nymphs and shepherds
  • Venere, Venus ( soprano )
  • Ascanio, her son (soprano, castrato )
  • Silvia, nymph of the family of Hercules , Ascanios fiancee (soprano)
  • Aceste, priest of Venus ( tenor )
  • Fauno, a shepherd (soprano, castrato)
Ascanio in Alba (1771)

The opera Ascanio in Alba is a serenata teatrale in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( KV  111) based on a text by Giuseppe Parini . Ascanio in Alba was commissioned for the wedding of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria with Princess Maria Beatrice of Este . 15 year old Mozart wrote the music for Ascanio in just three and a half weeks. The opera premiered on October 17, 1771 in Milan at the Teatro Ducale.

Ascanio in Alba is a typical allegory . Ascanio, the son of Venus, stands for the archduke, the goddess for the ruler Maria Theresa , who explains to her son that he will one day be king of Alba. The bride Beatrice, symbolized by the Silvia, must first pass an exam. It exists and impressively proves its virtue. The priest Aceste leads the two lovers to the altar.


first act

The goddess Venus and her son Ascanio appear with her entourage in Alba. Venus explains to her son that she was very happy with his father Aeneas in this area and is therefore very happy to stay here. However, she cannot always leave her place in heaven and he, Ascanio, should rule here.

Ascanio asks about Silvia, whom he had been promised, but whom he does not know. Silvia is a nymph from the tribe of Hercules . But the goddess admonishes her son to be patient. The priest Aceste was busy with the wedding preparations. She reassures the son by pointing out that she has commissioned Amor to embellish the dreams of his future bride in Ascanio's form. Ascanio shouldn't show himself yet.

Ascanio therefore poses as a stranger to the shepherd Fauno, who asks him about his origins and desires. He explains to Fauno that he was so impressed by Alba's beauty that he wanted to stay here forever. The shepherd then praises the land that the goddess Venus spoils with her kindness. Ascanio is touched by the praise paid to his mother. When Ascanio sees the priest Aceste and the nymph Silvia approach, Fauno admonishes him to keep his composure and only look at Silvia from a distance.

Second act

The shepherds celebrate. Aceste tells them on behalf of Venus that the son of Aeneas will still be in Alba today and will unite with Silvia. Silvia is startled and tells the priest Aceste that she has long been seeing the image of a young man she loves. The priest thinks that this young man of her dreams is undoubtedly Ascanio, and he instructs her and the shepherds to get ready to receive the goddess Venus.

Ascanio stays behind. He is overwhelmed by the beauty and innocence of his bride Silvia.

The goddess appears, accompanied by geniuses and graces. She promises her son that a new town will soon be built here in the valley ( Alba ). But he is saddened that he is still not allowed to reveal himself to his bride. He just walks up to Silvia, who is able to recognize him immediately as the stranger of her dreams.

Fauno instructs "the stranger" (Ascanio) to report in his homeland about the wedding and the future city. Silvia concludes from this that the stranger is not Ascanio. She is deeply saddened, but finally decides to submit to her fate - but she will never love anyone other than the man who appeared to her in the dream.

The goddess Venus appears at the wedding and finally introduces Ascanio as her son. He approaches Silvia, and his mother unites the two lovers who are supposed to make their country and the family of Aeneas happy and famous.


A year before the wedding, the princess heard a concert by Mozart and was very impressed by him.

Father Leopold Mozart felt it was an “immortal honor” that his son was allowed to compose an opera for the archduke's wedding celebrations and thus at least stand next to the great Johann Adolph Hasse , whose opera Il Ruggiero was performed on the same occasion. The wedding took place on October 15, 1771. Mozart's Ascanio was an enormous and surprising success.

Much of the ballet music that connects the two acts has been preserved in a kind of piano reduction (KV Anh. 207: nine small pieces for piano).

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