This three-volume biography, first published in 1796, recounts the colourful life of the popular Italian poet and librettist Pietro Trapassi (1698 1782), better known by his pseudonym Metastasio. Charles Burney (1726 1814), a British composer and the author of a celebrated four-volume History of Music published between 1776 and 1789, interweaves his own accounts of the poet's life with Metastasio's original letters translated into English. Metastasio's posthumously published correspondence with his friends and patrons provides the essential thread to understanding his complex life and affairs. The son of a shopkeeper, Metastasio was adopted as a young boy by the director of the Arcadian Academy, Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina, who was charmed by the child's extraordinary talent for improvising poetry. Volume 2 covers Metastasio's successful Viennese career from 1751 to 1770, and includes the bulk of his correspondence with his friend the famous castrato Farinelli.