Mozart &
Material Culture


Under Spanish domination until the early eighteenth century, Milan came under Habsburg rule in 1706. Public musical life centred around the Teatro Regio Ducale, opened in 1717, including both operas and ballets, while private concerts at the homes of the local nobility were mostly (but not exclusively) given during Lent, when the theatres were closed; open-air concerts were sometimes given on the ramparts of the Castello Sforzesca. 

Mozart Relevance

Mozart and his father were in Milan from 23 January-15 February 1770, from 18 October 1770-about 14 January 1771, 31 January-about 4 February and 21 August-5 December 1771, and 4 November-about 4 March 1773. Their chief patron there was Karl Joseph Firmian. Three theatrical works by Mozart were premiered at Milan between 1770 and 1772: Mitridate, re di Ponto K87 (26 December 1770), Ascanio in Alba K111 (15 October 1771) and Lucio Silla K135 (26 December 1772). During their time in Milan, the Mozarts visited:

Ai Tre Re. Hotel (formerly via Giardino near piazza Diaz). Mozart and his father visited the glass harmonica virtuosa Marianne Davies here in mid-September 1771. 

Convento degli Agostiniani di S. Marco (piazza San Marco, 2). Monastery, founded in 1254 and attached to the twelfth-century San Marco. Mozart and his father stayed at the Convento degli Agostiniani on their first arrival at Milan on 23 January 1770.

Duomo (piazza del Duomo). Cathedral, begun in 1386 and largely constructed in late-Gothic style. During Mozart's time it lacked its present-day façade (completed 1805-13). It was the site of the wedding of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and Maria Beatrice Ricciardi d'Este on 15 October 1771, for which Mozart composed Ascanio in Alba K111.

Domenico Aspari, Duomo Milan, eighteenth century (engraving)

Domenico Aspari, Duomo Milan, eighteenth century (engraving)

S. Antonio Abate dei Frati Teati (via di S. Antonio). Mozart's motet Exsultate, jubilate K165 was first performed here on 17 January 1773 by Venanzio Rauzzini.

Teatro Regio Ducale (via Palazzo Reale, near the Duomo). Constructed in 1717, the Teatro Regio Ducale was destroyed by fire in 1776 (and replaced by the present-day La Scala). Three stage works by Mozart were premiered here: Mitridate, re di Ponto K87 (26 December 1770), Ascanio in Alba K111 (17 October 1771) and Lucio Silla K135 (26 December 1772).

Date (Mozart)
Location (Mozart)
Bibliographic Reference
Lit.: Scotti, ‘l conte Carlo Firmian, collezionista e mediatore del “gusto” fra Milan e Vienna’; Hansell, Opera and Ballet at the Regio Ducal Teatro of Milan, 1771–1776: a Musical and Social History; Basso, I Mozart in Italia, 403-407