Metastasio, Pietro (real name, Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi)

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Metastasio, Pietro (real name, Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi)

Metastasio, Pietro (real name, Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi), famous Italian poet and opera librettist; b. Rome, Jan. 3, 1698; d. Vienna, April 12, 1782. He was the son of a papal soldier named Trapassi, but in his professional career assumed the Greek tr. of the name, both Trapassi (or Trapassa-mento) and Metastasio meaning transition. He was a learned classicist. He began to write plays as a young boy, and also studied music with Porpora. He achieved great fame in Italy as a playwright. In 1729 he was appointed court poet in Vienna by Emperor Charles VI. He wrote 27 opera texts, which were set to music by Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Hasse, Porpora, Jommelli, and many other celebrated composers; some of them were set to music 60 or more times. His librettos were remarkable for their melodious verse, which naturally suggested musical associations; the libretto to the opera by Niccolo Conforto, La Nitteti (1754; Madrid, Sept. 23, 1756), was on the same subject as Aida, anticipating the latter by more than a century. Metastasio’s complete works were publ. in Paris (12 vols., 1780–82) and Mantua (20 vols., 1816–20); they were ed. by F. Gazzani (Turin, 1968) and by M. Fubino (Milan, 1968); see also A. Wotquenne, Alphabetisches Verzeichnis der Stücke in Versen ...von Zeno, Metastasio und Goldoni (Leipzig, 1905).


S. Mattei, Memorie per servire alla vita del M. (Colle, 1785); C. Burney, Memoirs of the Life and Letters of the Abate M. (London, 1796); M. Zito, Studio su P. M. (Naples, 1904); E. Leonardi, II melodramma del M. (Naples, 1909); L. Russo, P. M. (Pisa, 1915; 2nd ed., rev., 1921–45, as M.); A. della Corte, L’estetica musicale di P. M. (Turin, 1922); A. Vullo, Confronto fra i melodrammi di Zeno e M. (Agrigento, 1935); B. Brunelli, ed., Tutte le opere di P. M. (Milan, 1943–54); M. Muraro, M. e il mondo musicale (Florence, 1986); C. Maeder, M., l’Olimpiade e l’opera del Settecento (Bologna, 1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire