After Antonio Salieri had scored a huge success with Les Danaïdes in Paris in 1784, he travelled back to Vienna with a new libretto in his hands: Les Horaces, based on the drama by the French classical poet Pierre Corneille. The opera focuses on an episode from the history of the founding of Rome. Romans (Horatii) and Albanians (Curiatii) are fighting for supremacy. In the end, it is decided that the dispute should be settled in a battle between three Roman and three Albanian warriors. The three sons of each of the two rival leaders are chosen. A love affair is tragically caught up in the conflict: Camille, the Horatiis' sister, is in love with one of the Curiatii, but the young man is killed by one of her brothers. When Camille is seized by a fit of raging despair at this, she is killed by one of her brothers as a traitor to her fatherland. The premiere in Paris in 1786 was, unfortunately, very poorly received, and even though Salieri hastily changed the heavily criticised ending it made no difference and the opera was dropped from the programme after three performances.