Lorenzo Da Ponte

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Da Ponte, Lorenzo

Da Ponte, Lorenzo (lōrĕntˈsō dä pônˈtā), 1749–1838, Italian librettist and teacher, b. Ceneda as Emmanuele Conegliano. Born Jewish, he converted to Catholicism at 14, became (1773) a priest, and shortly after ordination moved to Venice. A freethinking liberal and sometime libertine and gambler, he was banished from Venice in 1779 due to several scandals. He lived briefly in Dresden, then settled (1781) in Vienna, where Emperor Joseph II named him (1783) poet of the imperial theaters, a post he held until 1790. During his tenure Da Ponte wrote the librettos for numerous operas. The most notable of these were for three Mozart masterpieces—The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Così fan tutte (1790)—for which he contributed elegant, witty, and eminently singable words and created or adapted powerful plots and characters. Driven from Vienna after the emperor's death, Da Ponte wandered through Europe, married in Trieste, and settled (1792) in London. There he worked as a tutor of Italian, a bookseller, and a librettist to an Italian opera company until he went bankrupt in 1804.

A year later Da Ponte immigrated to America, where he failed in attempts to be a grocer, at selling medicines and drygoods, and at running a distillery. After a chance meeting with Clement Clarke Moore, however, he soon began a more successful career, spending most of the rest of his life in New York City as a celebrated teacher of Italian. A pioneer in the dissemination of Italian culture in the United States, he taught (1805–25) nearly 2,000 private pupils and in 1830 was appointed Columbia College's first professor of Italian language and literature (and the first such professor in the United States). His library, bought by Columbia in 1825, was the nucleus of its collection of Italian poetry and miscellaneous literature. In 1833 he helped establish the Italian Opera House in lower Manhattan, the first attempt to create a permanent American home for Italian opera. Da Ponte's last years were marred by poverty and the failure (1836) of the opera house.


See his memoirs (1823–27; tr. 1929; ed. by A. Livingston, tr. 1955, repr. 2000) detailing his extraordinary life; biographies by J. L. Russo (1922, repr. 1966), A. Fitzlyon (1955, repr. 1982), L. J. Hetenyi (1988), S. Hodges (1985, repr. 2002), R. Bolt (2006), and A. Holden (2006); A. Steptoe, The Mozart–Da Ponte Operas (1988); M. Du Mont, The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas: An Annotated Bibliography (2000).

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Continuing an encouraging trend for the translation of early Italian lyric, this volume, published in the vital Lorenzo da Ponte Italian Library series, offers us the first complete translation of the poetry of a foundational figure in Italian literature: Giacomo da Lentini.
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VVGOOGLING a runner Da Ponte 1.25 Kempton Lorenzo da Ponte was the librettist of three of Mozart's greatest operas: Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutte.
One of the three great operas that Mozart wrote with his brilliant librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, Don Giovanni has been thrilling, entertaining and delighting audiences ever since it was written 225 years ago.
Ever since the 1788 Vienna revival of Don Giovanni, for which Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte made substantial modifications to the 1787 Prague original, the wealth of materials, versions, and options the creators left behind have challenged performers, editors, and scholars to bring the opera into clear focus.
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Other notable trends and sub-trends include the horror/thriller musical (at NAMT, there's the Victorian-flavored Ripper, while NYMF hosts a vampire rockfest called The Cure, the campy Gay Bride of Frankenstein and the darkly whimsical The Happy Embalmer); the sardonic satire (The Last Smoker in America, about a world without cigarettes, and the Biblical romp Judas & Me, both at NYMF); and the historical musical (NAMT's 19th-century drama Factory Girls, and at NYMF, such projects as the black Western Cross That River, and Lorenzo, a bio of Mozart's librettist Lorenzo da Ponte).
Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. Almost 10 years ago, it offered a musically and conceptually beautiful version of "Cosi Fan Tutte," and more than 20 years ago it delivered a superb version of "The Marriage of Figaro" featuring a stellar cast.