Within two years he had spent his money and increased his reputation. He decided to apply himself seriously to the work of his profession. In Naples, he entered the office of an eminent lawyer named Castagnola, who exercised severe control over his time and energies. While slaving at the law, Metastasio in composed an epithalamium, and probably also his first musical serenade, Endimione Endymion , on the occasion of the marriage of his patroness Donna Anna Francesca Ravaschieri Pinelli di Sangro later 6th Principessa di Belmonte to the Marchese Don Antonio Pignatelli later His Serene Highness Prince of Belmonte.
In , the birthday of the empress had to be celebrated with more than ordinary honours, and the viceroy asked Metastasio to compose a serenata for the occasion. Metastasio accepted, but kept his authorship secret. The Roman prima donna, Marianna Bulgarelli, who played Venus in this opera, spared no pains until she had discovered its author. Bulgarelli persuaded the poet to give up the law, and promised to secure for him fame and independence if he would devote his talents to the musical drama. Here too he studied the art of singing, and learned to appreciate the style of such men as Farinelli.
Metastasio wrote quickly and his plays were enhanced by being set to music and sung by the greatest singers of the day. On paper, his plots may seem conventional, his situations absurd; he takes liberties with historical fact and is obsessed with the topic of love.
Yet the music helps negate these criticisms. But meanwhile Bulgarelli was growing older; she had ceased to sing in public; and the poet increasingly felt his dependence upon her kindness irksome. He gained scudi for each opera; this pay, though good, was precarious and he longed for some fixed engagement.
In September he received the offer of the post of court poet to the theatre at Vienna, succeeding Pietro Pariati, with a stipend of florins. This he at once accepted. Bulgarelli unselfishly sped him on his way to glory. She took charge of his family in Rome and he set off for Austria. This date marks a new period in his artistic activity. Some of them had to be composed for special occasions, with almost incredible rapidity: Achille in eighteen days, Ipermestra in nine.
Poet, composer, musical copyist and singer did their work together in frantic haste. Metastasio understood the technique of his peculiar art in its minutest details. The experience gained at Naples and Rome, quickened by the excitement of his new career at Vienna, enabled him almost instinctively, and as it were by inspiration, to hit the exact mark aimed at in the opera. In Vienna Metastasio met with no marked social success. His plebeian birth excluded him from aristocratic circles. She had lost her husband, and had some while occupied the post of chief favourite to the emperor. Bulgarelli tired of his absence, and asked Metastasio to get her an engagement at the court theatre.
He was ashamed of her and tired of her, and wrote dissuading her from the projected visit. The tone of his letters alarmed and irritated her. She seems to have set out from Rome, but died suddenly upon the road. This disinterested act plunged the Bulgarelli-Metastasio household at Rome into confusion. As time advanced, the life which Metastasio led at Vienna, together with the climate, told on his health and spirits. From about the year onward he wrote little, though the cantatas which belong to this period, and the canzonetta Ecco quel fiero istante , which he sent to his friend Farinelli, rank among the most popular of his productions.
In the Countess Althann died, and Metastasio was reduced to the society which gathered round him in the bourgeois house of the Martinez. Topic [[missing key: search-facet.
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