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Pietro Metastasio [Trapassi]
Born: Rome (Italy) 03/01/1698   Died: Rome (Italy) 12/04/1782

1. Poet
2. Librettist
3. Moralist
Letters in which this person is cited
158 (26 January 1770) | view
160 (10 February 1770) | view
177 (21 April 1770) | view
239 (19 July 1771) | view
266 (14 November 1772) | view
Poet, librettist, moralist. Metastasio`s early education in Rome was guided by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a generous patron of music and the theatre. Gianvincenzo Gravina, a founding member of the first Arcadian Academy established in Rome in 1690, took over this task when he adopted the boy in 1708, subsequently changing his surname from Trapassi to Metastasio. Under Gravina, Metastasio received a classical education and became well versed in the literary aspects of the Arcadian movement, in Cartesian moral philosophy, and in Christian doctrine. In 1719, he moved to Naples where his early career flourished through works written for well-connected members of the aristocracy and through opera seria texts set by the leading Italian composers, among them Vinci, Porpora and Sarro, and performed in the principal opera centres of Naples, Rome and Venice. By imperial invitation, he moved to Vienna in 1730 where [if I may: ‘in 1730 he moved to Vienna where…’?] he was appointed Imperial Court Poet; by 1740 he had written eleven opera librettos and seven oratorios, as well as cantatas, canzonettas, sonnets, and other lyrical poetry. A period of decline began with the death of his first patron, Charles VI, the result of changes under Maria Theresia that brought economic restrictions, the passing of court theatre to private enterprise, and a shift in taste from Italian opera to French and subsequently to German theatre. After 1740, a number of Metastasio`s works were premièred outside Vienna where, in some centres, settings of his texts remained in vogue well into the nineteenth century. In Vienna, however, Metastasian opera left the stage around 1765 and did not return until the 1790s when a short-lived Metastasian revival brought with it the first performance in Vienna of Mozart`s La clemenza di Tito K621. A commentator on the dramatic practices of antiquity and a lyric poet in his own right, Metastasio is best known for his 27 opera seria librettos; by about 1835 his texts had been set by more than 400 composers. Mozart was aware of Metastasio from an early age. Both his earliest extant vocal pieces, the arias `Va, dal furor portata` (K21) and `Conservati fedele` (K23), as well as his last, La clemenza di Tito, are based on Metastasian texts. Mozart met Metastasio during his visit to Vienna in 1767-1768, when Metastasio, among others, championed La finta semplice K51. In Milan, in 1770, Mozart received the 1757 Turin edition of Metastasio`s works as a gift, and from this source, he chose another group of texts to set: in addition to the doubtful `Non curo l`affetto` (K74b), extant and complete among these works are the aria `Per pietà, bell`idol mio` (K78), the two scenes `Misero me … Misero pargoletto` (K77) and `Oh, temerario Arbace … Per quel paterno` (K79), and the arias `Se adire, e speranza` (K82), `Se tutti i mali miei` (K83) and `Fra cento affani` (K88). Metastasio made additions and alterations to the text of Lucio Silla K135 and two Metastasian works were set by Mozart in Salzburg in 1771 and 1772 respectively, the oratorio La Betulia liberata K118 and the azione teatrale Il sogno di Scipione K126. Il re pastore K208 was set by Mozart as a serenata for Munich in 1775. Other Metastasian settings by Mozart include the lost 'Misero tu non sei' K73A, the arias 'Alcandro, lo confesso-Non so, d'onde viene' K294 and K512, 'Basta, vincesti-Ah non lasciarmi' K295a, 'Ma, che vi fece, o stelle-Sperai vicino il lido' K368, 'Misera, dove son!-Ah! non son' io che parlo' K369, 'Così dunque tradisci-Aspri rimorsi atroci' K432, and 'Ah se in ciel, benigne stelle' K538, and the canzonettas K436-439 and K549. Lit.: Pinamonti, Mozart, Padova e la Betulia liberata; Knighton and Burden, ‘Metastasio, 1698–1782’; Hilscher and Sommer-Mathis, Pietro Metastasio, uomo universale (1698–1782); Lütteken Splitt, Metastasio im Deutschland der Aufklärung. Bericht über das Symposium Potsdam 1999; Oxford Music Online.
Please use the following reference when citing this website:
Eisen, Cliff et al. In Mozart's Words, 'Pietro Metastasio [Trapassi]' <http://letters.mozartways.com>. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.
In Mozart's Words. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.