Like many of Vienna’s most prominent musicians, Florian Leopold Gassmann (1729-1774) was a Bohemian by birth. Comparatively little is known about his early life and training although he was well enough established in Italy as a composer to secure a commission to compose his first opera, Merope, for the Teatro S Moisè, Venice, in the Carnival season of 1757. The work was a success and Gassmann composed a new opera annually for the next five years. His third opera, Gli uccelatori, was the first of his many settings of libretti by Carlo Goldoni. In 1763 he succeeded Gluck (as ballet composer) in Vienna and in 1772 succeeded Georg Reutter the Younger as Hofkapellmeister. His premature death in 1774 as a result of a fall from a carriage was regretted by many, including Joseph II who admired his music very much. La Contessina (The Young Countess) is perhaps Gassmann’s best-known opera. As is the case with Il filosofo inamorato, the libretto of La Contessina was adapted from Goldoni by Coltellini. The work received its premiere in Mährisch-Neustadt on 3 September 1770 during festivities to celebrate the meeting of Joseph II and Frederick The Great. The work was highly successful and was produced in a number of important European musical centres. As a measure of its popularity the overture was advertised for sale in the Breitkopf Catalogue (Supplement VIII 1773) and also found its way into the Quartbuch catalogue. Gassmann’s elegance and skill as a composer of theatrical music is evident at every turn in this sparkling overture.