Il pastor fido
Composition and publication
Most likely Guarini wrote the play between 1580 and 1585. Prior to publication he sought the advice of Florentine scholar Lionardo Salviati, who also circulated the manuscript among other members of the private Accademia degli Alterati of Florence. Salviati's criticisms were varied, including characterisation, plot, length, decorum, and overall unsuitability for the stage; however these criticisms did not stop Guarini from publishing it at Venice in 1590, after some revisions.
On 4 April 1584 Vincenzo Gonzaga sent a letter to Guarini requesting the manuscript, intending to mount a production for his marriage to Leonora de' Medici at Mantua at the end of April. Guarini responded that he was yet to write the final act and all of the choruses, so a performance would be premature. There was a failed attempt later in 1584 to put on a performance, this time at Ferrara. The play had its first complete performance in Turin, in 1585, in honor of the nuptials of the Duke of Savoy and Catharine of Austria. In the next year a pamphlet war erupted between proponents and opponents of the play, which was to continue until 1593.
Guarini continued to revise the play after the first publication, the last revision being for the 20th edition of 1602 (Venice). It appeared in over a hundred editions following its first publication.
One of the most famous plays of the 17th century, it inspired numerous madrigal composers, including Giaches de Wert, Claudio Monteverdi, Sigismondo d'India, Alessandro Grandi, Tarquinio Merula, and Heinrich Schütz; Philippe de Monte named a volume after the play. The first operatic treatment was Handel's HWV 8 in 1712.