In February 1778, Leopold had fired off a round of incriminating letters, accusing his son of dilatoriness, irresponsibility over money and family disloyalty. He ordered Wolfgang to depart for Paris, and it was decided that his mother should continue to accompany him, rather than return to Salzburg. This decision would have far-reaching consequences for both father and son as Maria Anna Mozart died on 3 July 1778 in Paris. The aria Wolfgang previously mentioned was written for Dorothea Wendling, for whom Mozart also wrote the role “Ilia” in Idomeneo, re di Creta. Dorothea, who was looking for a designer concert aria, had chosen the text by Pietro Metastasio and Mozart had sent the finished composition to his father for inspection.
Mozart continues his letter, defending himself against his father’s accusation of irresponsibility over money, “I must now tell you I was so shocked that tears came to my eyes, on reading in your last letter that you are obliged to go about so shabbily dressed. My very dearest papa, this is certainly not my fault; you know it is not. We economize in every possible way here; food and lodging, wood and light cost us nothing, which is all we could hope for. As for dress, you are well aware that, in places where you are not known, it is out of the question to be badly dressed, for appearances must be kept up. My whole hopes are now centered in Paris, for German princes are all misers. I mean to work with all my strength, that I may soon have the happiness of extricating you from your present distressing circumstances.”