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A Poet's Influence Upon the Music of His Day

One of the most significant characters in the musical history of the eighteenth century and at the same time one of the least known at the present day was the Italian poet, P. A. D. B. Metastasio, whose dramas and poems inspired many masters to produce notable works. Like Scribe and Boito in later days, Metastasio furnished the words for many of the most successful musical production of his time. He was born in Rome in 1698. His talent became evident when he was a child and at the insistance of a patron his real name, Bonaventura, was changed to Metastasio. He became Court Poet at Vienna in 1830 and kept this position until his death fifty years later. Among the musicians who employed Metastasio's words for their operas and their oratorios were: Porpora, Jomelli, Piccini, Paisiello, Paer, Mercadante, Handel, Gluck, Meyerbeer, G. Scarlatti, Caldara, Mozart, Cimarosa, Haydn, A. Scarlatti, Spontini, Hasse, and many others. Some of Metastasio's dramatic poems have had as many as forty settings. The best known of all his works were "Semiramide" and "La Clemenza di Tito." Strange to say none of the operas for which he wrote the librettos are produced in these days with the possible exception of Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito."

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