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Detail from the autograph of the Cantata pastorale, 1716: Non s˛ qual pi¨ m'ingombra
Source: Musiksammlung der Staatsbibliothek, Berlin


Detail from the autograph score of Cantata da camera: Ombre tacite e sole, 31.10.1716
Source: British Library

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The Composer's Words
Scarlatti enjoyed the patronage of Ferdinando de' Medici in the first decade of the 18th century. The cultured prince - who supported the ambitious inventions of Bartolomeo Cristofori while he developed the 'cembalo col forte e piano' - commissioned several operas from Alessandro. The composer could not often attend to direct the productions, and he entrusted some of his ideas about his music to the prince.

Pietro Metastasio
Life of the 18th century poet and librettist
Contributor: James Sanderson

Metastasio, Pietro (1698-1782), Italian poet, whose librettos dominated 18th-century opera. Born in Rome and originally named Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi, he was educated in law and the classics by a wealthy patron and studied music under the Italian opera composer Nicola Porpora. His first libretto, Didone abbandonata (Dido Abandoned, 1724), established his fame in Italy, and in 1730 he went to Vienna as court poet. His 27 librettos were set to music more than 800 times by such composers as W. A. Mozart, the Germans Christoph Willibald Gluck, Johann Christian Bach, and George Frideric Handel, and the Italians Giovanni Pergolesi, Tommaso TraŰtta, and Niccol˛ Jommelli. With their aristocratic ideals and conflicts of reason and feeling, they were perfectly suited to 18th-century heroic opera. They include Artaserse (1730), Alessandro nell'Indie (1731), and La clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus, 1734). His verse was admired for its musicality and faithfulness to speech.

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