In 1790 Leopold II, the successor of Joseph II to the Austrian throne, agreed that he should be crowned Czech King. The Czech Estates took great interest in the coronation seeing it as an opportunity of strengthening their rather small influence on the government of their country. They wanted to organize it with flamboyance. To glamorise the celebrations they started considering an opera. In the contract the Estates made with the experienced impresario Guardasoni there is no mention of Mozart. Guardasoni was free to choose the composer and having been familiar with the taste of Prague audiences he chose Mozart.
It was very urgent. Besides, the commission reached Mozart busy and exhausted working on Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and Requiem. His financial situation, however, was such that in no case was he able to reject the offer. There was no time to have a new libretto written so Mozart was to set the opera to the theme of La clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus) by the librettist Pietro Metastasio. Due to the libretto the opera does not reach such dramatic effect as for example Le nozze di Figaro or Don Giovanni.
The first performance took place in the evening of the coronation day on 6 September 1791. Even though the opera was performed by leading members of Guardasoni´s company, the expected result, however, did not come true. The performance was open only to the highest society and it was definitely not satisfied. The empress Maria Luisa even called it “porcheria tedesca” – German rubbish. Tito was a total failure.
The disappointed Mozart returned to Vienna to spend the last few months of his life there. The only satisfaction for the hard work was the admiration of the Prague audience, which applauded after each aria at the following performance.