The Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte--Mozarts Poet, Casanovas Friend, and Italian Operas Impre
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The Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte--Mozarts Poet, Casanovas Friend, and Italian Operas Impre

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by Rodney Bolt
     
 

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In 1805, Lorenzo Da Ponte was the proprietor of a small grocery store in New York. But since his birth into an Italian Jewish family in 1749, he had already been a priest, a poet, the lover of many women, a scandalous Enlightenment thinker banned from teaching in Venice, the librettist for three of Mozarts most sublime operas, a collaborator with Salieri, a friend of

Overview

In 1805, Lorenzo Da Ponte was the proprietor of a small grocery store in New York. But since his birth into an Italian Jewish family in 1749, he had already been a priest, a poet, the lover of many women, a scandalous Enlightenment thinker banned from teaching in Venice, the librettist for three of Mozarts most sublime operas, a collaborator with Salieri, a friend of Casanova, and a favorite of Emperor Joseph II. He would go on to establish New York Citys first opera house and be the first professor of Italian at Columbia University. An inspired innovator but a hopeless businessman, who loved with wholehearted loyalty and recklessness, Da Ponte was one of the early immigrants to live out the American dream. In Rodney Bolts rollicking and extensively researched biography, Da Pontes picaresque life takes readers from Old World courts and the back streets of Venice, Vienna, and London to the New World promise of New York City. Two hundred and fifty years after Mozarts birth, the life and legacy of his librettist Da Ponte are as astonishing as ever.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596919822
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/11/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
885,420
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Rodney Bolt is the author of History Play, a speculative biography of Christopher Marlowe. He has worked as a writer and director and won travel-writing prizes in Germany and the United States. He lives in Amsterdam.

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Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo da Ponte: Mozart's Poet, Casanova's Friend, and Italian Opera's Impresario in America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Rodgers and Hart, Lerner and Lowe, but Mozart and Da Ponte? Yes, the name is Da Ponte, and few who read Rodney Bolt's stunning examination of the librettist's life will forget it. One would be hard pressed to find someone entering the worl in less promising circumstances than Da Ponte. The year is 1749 the place is the Venetian Republic. Born the son of a poor leather worker he spent his early years among some fifty other Jews in Ceneda's ghetto, and was named Emanuele Conegliano. Venice was markedly anti-Semitic - Jews were required to wear red headgear in public, they couldn't work for Christians, only certain trades and professions were allowed to them, and they were confined to the ghetto at night. So it was that Emanuele's father decided to improve their lot, both politically and financially, by embracing Catholicism. Then, as was the custom, the family would take the surname of the bishop who baptized them and, as the eldest son, Emanuele would also take the bishop's first name too. He became Lorenzo Da Ponte. Lorenzo embraced his new faith with exuberance or, as the author notes, his pronouncements 'may be the sincere exaltations of a fervent new convert, but they carry more of the wide-eyed wiliness of a fourteen-year-old who has realized on which side his bread is lavishly being buttered.' He was sent to seminary to study and in 1773 was ordained a priest, which did nothing to hamper his relationships with women (some say his scorecard matched that of his friend, Casanova). Venice was a pleasure palace at that time albeit a dying one. And, Lorenzo's penchant for carnal enjoyment eventually resulted in his exile from Venice. He traveled to Vienna where Emperor Joseph II named him poet for a court opera company. It was here that he met Mozart and the two collaborated on some of the greatest operas the world has known: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. Regrettably Joseph's death brought an end to the opera company and Da Ponte sought greener pastures in London. At that time he was married to a younger woman, and was barely able to keep their bodies and souls together by selling books. America beckoned. How fascinating it is to see our cities through the eyes of Da Ponte, especially 19th century New York, where he found work as a teacher and bookseller. He would see the Opera House open in 1833. Later, 'Like his friends Mozart and Casanova, Lorenzo da Ponte was buried in an unmarked grave.' You needn't be an opera lover to enjoy this dramatic story of a life lived to the fullest. Bolt is an impressive historian and an assiduous researcher. The Librettist of Venice is a remarkable work. - Gail Cooke