The operas of Joseph Haydn are far less known today than those of his contemporaries Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 – 1787) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 -1791). In 1790 Haydn was generally considered the most famous composer of his age, but the relative obscurity of his operas in comparison with his other works today was also the case in the 18th century. How is it possible that Haydn’s operas are still relatively unknown, despite a remark Empress Maria Theresia expressed upon hearing Haydn’s L’ Infeldelta Delusa in 1773; “If I want to hear good opera, I am going to Esterhaza!”
Between 1761 and 1790 Haydn was in the employment of Prince Paul von Esterhazy and his son and successor Prince Nikolaus, both passionate music lovers. From 1766 onwards, Haydn wrote, in addition to composing chamber music and symphonies, four Italian comedies, six German Singspiele and numerous Italian operas for his employers of the Esterhazy dynasty. Furthermore he also supervised all musical activities at the court including yearly performances of more than 150 operas, many composed by his contemporaries. As Kapellmeister Haydn was not only responsible for musical direction of the operas but also for staging, contracting the singers and occasionally writing an extra aria as required, like the aria “Quando la rosa”. This aria was included in the performance of Guiseppe Anfossi’s opera La Metilde Ritrovata (1773).