Four letters by Count Firmian on Mozart and "Ascanio in Alba"
Posted: Fri, 11 Aug 2023
We have just added four new documents to our site: four draft letters by Count Carlo di Firmian regarding the commissioning and preparation of the serenata for the wedding in Milan of Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Maria Beatrice d’Este in the autumn of 1771. This is the commission that became Ascanio in Alba. The letters were first described by Andrea Sommer in her 1981 dissertation at the University of Vienna, but have been overlooked by Mozart scholars. Transcriptions, translations, and commentaries here are by Dexter Edge.
Count Firmian writes to Count Wenzel Sporck in Vienna, informing him that Empress Maria Theresia has left up to Firmian the choice of poet and composer for a serenata to be commissioned for the imperial wedding in Milan. Firmian makes the case for Mozart as the composer.
Firmian writes to Count Salazar, direttore of the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan, instructing him to have a letter sent to Mozart in Verona informing him of the commission for the wedding serenata.
Firmian writes to Sporck, telling him that Mozart has been informed of the commission for the serenata, and that Firmian has chosen Giuseppe Parini to write the libretto. This appears to be the earliest known reference to Parini in connection with Ascanio in Alba.
Firmian in Vienna writes to Parini in Milan, in a letter to accompany the return of the libretto of Ascanio in Alba, which has now been approved by the court. He asks Parini to shorten the libretto a bit, so that the whole will not last more than two hours, but also to give the libretto to Mozart as soon as possible so that he will have sufficient time to compose the music.
Our entry “Mozart and Count Firmian 4 April 1770” has also been revised in order to bring it into line with these new commentaries.
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