The Man Who Wrote Mozart: The Extraordinary Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte

Overview

In June 1805 a 56-year-old Italian immigrant disembarked to Philadelphia carrying only a violin. Before dying in New York 23 years later, he would find New World respectability as the first Professor of Italian at Columbia University. For now, he set up shop as a grocer. There was always an air of mystery about the Abbe Lorenzo Da Ponte. A scholarly poet, teacher, and priest with a devoted wife, he also had a reputation as a womanizer. Da Ponte charmed all he met, pioneering the place of Italian music in American...

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Overview

In June 1805 a 56-year-old Italian immigrant disembarked to Philadelphia carrying only a violin. Before dying in New York 23 years later, he would find New World respectability as the first Professor of Italian at Columbia University. For now, he set up shop as a grocer. There was always an air of mystery about the Abbe Lorenzo Da Ponte. A scholarly poet, teacher, and priest with a devoted wife, he also had a reputation as a womanizer. Da Ponte charmed all he met, pioneering the place of Italian music in American life. But his self-assurance also excited mistrust. When the first Italian opera was performed in New York in 1825, he had the nerve to claim he had written it. Like the memoirs he wrote to pay off more debts, the old man was constantly full of tall stories. The varied lives of Lorenzo Da Ponte, librettist of Mozart's three great operas—The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte—begin in Venice, linger in Vienna and London, and end in New York, where today he lies buried in an unmarked grave in one of the world's largest cemeteries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Anthony Holden's compelling narrative does justice to the man and to the highs and lows of his unusually varied career."  —Waterstone's Books Quarterly

"Anthony Holden writes extremely well, telling the racy story energetically . . . he provides a rattling good read, filled with vivid anecdotes."  —Spectator

"Holden's companionable new biography is a refreshing take on an old story"  —Mail on Sunday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780753821800
  • Publisher: Phoenix
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 952,889
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Holden is known for his translating of opera libretti and is currently music critic of The Observer.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Prologue     xi
Veneto
The 'Clever Dunce'     3
The Priest     14
The Rebel     23
Europe
The Poet     43
The Librettist     56
Le Nozze di Figaro     67
Don Giovanni     90
Cosi Fan Tutte     102
The Married Man     117
The Londoner     132
The Bankrupt     146
America
The Grocer     163
The Professor     175
The Showman     195
A Note on Sources     215
Acknowledgements     221
Index     225
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