Pietro Metastasio

1698 (Rome) – 1782 (Vienna)

A renowned poet, and one of the most significant librettists in the history of opera. Porpora first set Metastasio’s words to music, the castrato Farinelli sung them, and the acclaim was so great that Metastasio gave up his work as a lawyer. He soon met Pergolesi, Scarlatti and Durante, all of whom also went on to set his plays to music. He met da Ponte in Vienna, and helped get him appointed as official poet to the Italian Theatre there. The young Haydn, lodging in the same house, was another Vienna acquaintance, as was Salieri.

Lorenzo da Ponte

1749 (Ceneda, now Vittorio Veneto, Italy) – 1838 (New York)

Da Ponte was recommended by Metastasio for his position with the Italian Opera in Vienna. Mozart and he collaborated on three operas in four years, supreme examples of the art; they communicated by shouting from house to house when living in the same Prague street. Da Ponte also worked as librettist for Martin y Soler, Salieri and Paisiello. Casanova advised him on fleeing Vienna to go to London; Longfellow, Irving and Cooper were all acquaintances after he fled London for New York, Moore’s father getting him a professorship in Italian. Morse, perhaps introduced by Cooper, painted the old man’s portrait.