Metastasio’s Old Testament dramas: Biblical stories in eighteenth century oratorio

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Dowling Long, Siobhán
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Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception
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Pietro Metastasio’s five Old Testament oratorio libretti—based on the dramatic stories of Cain and Abel, Joseph, Judith, Joash, and Abraham and Isaac—reveal the influence of the Counter-Reformation, of seventeenth-century French literary criticism, and of eighteenth-century biblical interpretation. Reflecting a traditional christological interpretation, all five shed light on the emotional lives of their protagonists, while providing moral instruction for the edification of eighteenth-century Catholic audiences. I conclude with a brief discussion of the oratorio Abramo ed Isacco by Josef Mysliveček, based on a Metastasian libretto Isacco, figura del Redentore (1740), and illustrate by way of musical examples the reception of Genesis 22 in music.
Pietro Metastasio , Five Old Testament oratorio libretti , Cain and Abel , Joseph , Judith , Joash , Abraham and Isaac
Dowling Long, S. (2013) 'Metastasio’s Old Testament dramas: Biblical stories in eighteenth century oratorio', Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception, 3(1), pp. 57-78. doi: 10.11157/rsrr3-1-589