Kublai Khan

Antonio Salieri

Dramma eroicomico in two acts

Libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti

World premiere of the original Italian version in a play version by Martin G. Berger and Philipp Amelungsen


Kublai, ruler of the Tartars, has a whole host of problems on his plate: his court officials are plotting against him, his own son is such a dimwit that the princess of the neighbouring country refuses to marry him, and to cap it all a couple of Italian adventurers are interfering with his country’s traditions. Although the comic opera Cublai, gran kan de’ Tartari by Giambattista Casti with music by Antonio Salieri is apparently set in Cathay, the situation it portrays is actually that of European royal courts, especially the court of the Russian tsar. The central question raised by the authors, in the true spirit of the Enlightenment in Europe, is how those in power deal with the responsibility they have for their lands. But because Russia was an ally of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, the monarch cancelled the premiere following the outbreak of the Austro-Turkish War in 1787. As a result, one of the most unusual operas of the 18th century, which draws on the comedy of the commedia dell’arte and whose biting satire almost equals that of Jacques Offenbach’s works, was forgotten for over 200 years. Conductor Christophe Rousset, a champion of Antonio Salieri’s music for many years, now takes on responsibility for the belated premiere of the original Italian version of Cublai, gran kan de’ Tartari.


In Italian with German and English surtitles

Introduction to the work 30 minutes before curtain-up




Discovery package