Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Ascanio in Alba, K. 111, is a pastoral opera in two parts (Festa teatrale in due atti) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Parini. It was commissioned by the Empress Maria Theresa.

It was first performed at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan on 17 October 1771.

KV 111 - Ascanio in Alba
- Sinfonia (0:00)
- Ballo di Grazie I,1 (3:39)
- Coro I,1 (Geni, Grazie) Di te più amabile (5:03)
- Aria I,1 (Venere) L'ombra de' rami tuoi (7:25)
- Aria I,2 (Ascanio) Cara, lontana ancora (12:14)
- Coro I,3 (Pastori) Venga de' sommi eroi (17:10)
- Aria I,3 (Fauno) Se il labbro più non dice (18:44)
- Coro e ballo I,4 (Pastori) Hai di Diana il core (22:15)
- Aria I,4 (Aceste) Per la gioia in questo seno (26:13)
- Cavatina I,4 (Silvia) Si, ma d'un altro amore (31:19)
- Aria I,4 (Silvia) Come è felice stato (33:34)
- Aria I,5 (Ascanio) Ah di si nobil alma (37:53)
- Aria I,5 (Venere) Al chiaror di que' bei rai (42:02)
- Aria II,1 (Silvia) Spiega il desio, le piume (45:52)
- Coro II,1 (Pastorelle) Già l'ore sen volano (53:05)
- Aria II,3 (Fauno) Dal tuo gentil sembiante (54:32)
- Aria II,4 (Ascanio) Al mio ben mi veggio avanti (1:05:07)
- Aria II,4 (Silvia) Infelici affetti miei (1:09:29)
- Coro II,4 (Pastorelle) Che stano evento (1:14:11)
- Aria II,5 (Ascanio) Torna mio bene, ascolta (1:14:38)
- Aria II,6 (Aceste) Sento, che il cor mi dice (1:18:27)
- Coro II,6 (Pastori, Ninfe) Scendi celeste Venere (1:22:48)
- Terzetto II,6 (Silvia, Ascanio, Aceste) Ah caro sposo, oh dio! (1:24:08)
- Coro II,6 (Tutti) Alma Dea tutto il mondo governa (1:29:08)

Roles

Venere (Venus)
Ascanio,
her son, son of Aeneas
Silvia, a nymph descended from Hercules    
Aceste, a priest of Venus
Fauno, a shepherd
Genii, Shepherds & Shepherdesses (chorus)

Synopsis

Place: the site of the future city of Alba Longa, near Rome
Time: mythical times.


Act 1

The opening scene introduces Venus and Ascanio, the son she had by Aeneas. (In most classical sources, Venus/Aphrodite is the mother of Aeneas.) The goddess vaunts the charms of Alba and invites her son to go and rule there. She urges him not to reveal his identity to Silvia, a nymph to whom he is betrothed, but to introduce himself to her under a false identity to test her virtue. While shepherds summon their promised ruler, Fauno reveals that the smiling face of Aceste, a priest, is a sign that the day will be a day of supreme happiness. Obeying the goddess, Ascanio pretends to be a foreigner attracted by the beauties of the place. Aceste tells the shepherds that their valley will be the site of a fine city and that they will have a sovereign, Ascanio, before the day is out. He also informs Silvia that she will be Ascanio’s bride, but she replies that she is in love with a young man she has seen in a dream. The priest reassures her, saying the young man in her dream can be none other than Ascanio. Venus then appears to Ascanio and asks him to test the girl a little longer before revealing his true identity.

 

Act 2

Ascanio spots Silvia among the shepherds and tries to talk to her. The girl immediately recognizes the young man from her dreams. Fauno intervenes and suggests to “the foreigner” (Ascanio) that he should go off and announce the building of Alba in foreign parts. Thus convinced that the foreigner is not Ascanio, Silvia is deeply saddened. She finally decides to accept her fate but declares she never will love anyone else than Ascanio.

 

Aceste consoles Silvia, saying that her tribulations are about to come to an end. Venus is invoked by a magnificent chorus. Silvia and Ascanio add their voices to the chorus and the goddess descends on her chariot surrounded by clouds. Venus unites the two lovers and explains how she had intended her son to discover the virtue of his fiancée. Aceste pronounces an oath of fidelity and loyalty to Venus, who then retires. It only remains for Ascanio to perpetuate the race of Aeneas and guide the city of Alba to prosperity.

Aeneas Introducing Cupid Dressed as Ascanius to Dido 1757 by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

In Greek and Roman mythology, Ascanius was the son of the Trojan prince Aeneas and Creusa, daughter of Priam. After the Trojan War, as the city burned, Aeneas escaped to Latium in Italy, taking his father Anchises and his child Ascanius with him, though Creusa died during the escape.

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ascanius' original name was Euryleon and this name was changed to Ascanius after his flight from Troy. According to Virgil, Ascanius was also called Iulus or Julus. The Gens Julia, or the Julians, the clan to which Julius Caesar belonged, claimed to have been descended from Ascanius/Iulus, his father Aeneas, and, ultimately, the goddess Venus, the mother of Aeneas in myth, his father being the mortal Anchises. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, however, Julus was a son of Ascanius who disputed the succession of the kingdom of Alba Longa with Silvius, upon the death of Ascanius.

According to another legend mentioned by Livy, Ascanius may have been the son of Aeneas and Lavinia and thus born in Latium, not Troy. Ascanius later fought in the Italian Wars along with his father Aeneas.

After the death of Aeneas, Ascanius became king of Lavinium and an Etruscan king named Mezentius took advantage of the occasion to besiege the city. 

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