Metastasio [Trapassi], Pietro (Antonio Domenico Bonaventura)
- Don Neville
(Antonio Domenico Bonaventura)
(b Rome, Jan 3, 1698; d Vienna, April 12, 1782). Italian poet, librettist and moralist. Although his fame rests chiefly on his 27 opera seria librettos, his works intended for musical setting also include a comic intermezzo, close to 40 occasional pieces (ranging from elaborately staged feste teatrale to simple complimenti for two participants), 8 oratorios, 37 cantatas, 8 solo complimenti, 7 canzonettas, 33 strofe per musica and other lyrical stanzas. This broad spectrum, widened further by settings of some of the 32 sonnets, has brought over 400 composers in contact with Metastasian texts, which, along with the music they prompted, were known across Europe, Britain, Scandinavia and imperial Russia during the period from about 1720 to about 1835, and even reached pockets of the New World. To understand these poetic works is a challenge. It demands a thinking back past the movements in realism and naturalism that were so much a part of the latter 19th century and which, in the 20th century, became so photographically and psychologically exact. It also demands a peeling away of 20th-century cynicism. In his writings Metastasio was much more concerned with what humanity might be than with what it actually is....