On the occasion of the marriage of her son Archduke Ferdinand of Austria to the Princess Maria Ricciarda Beatrice of Modena , the Empress Maria Theresia commissioned the young Mozart to compose the work, Serenata Teatrale “ Ascanio in Alba”. The librettist the Viennese Abate Guiseppe Parini , one of the most outstanding poets of the 18th century, wrote a baroque-designed libretto, which paid homage to and congratulated the royal couple.
Mozart wrote the music in only a few weeks, from the end of August until 23 September 1771. The first performance took place on 17 October 1771 in Milan to rousing success. Shortly thereafter, Leopold Mozart wrote that his son's composition had so overpowered the main performance of Hasses opera, “Il Ruggierio ” from the previous day, that he could hardly describe it. The vocal score is based on the Urtext of the New Mozart Edition.