Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart's Librettist by Sheila Hodges

By Sheila Hodges

3 of the best operas ever written—The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cos? fan tutte—join the beautiful tune of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the peerlessly matched libretti of Lorenzo Da Ponte. Da Ponte’s personal lengthy existence (1749–1838), although, used to be extra very good than any opera plot. A negative Jew who grew to become a Catholic priest; a clergyman who grew to become a tender gambler and rake; a instructor, poet, and librettist of genius who turned a Pennsylvania greengrocer; an impoverished immigrant to the US who grew to become professor of Italian at Columbia University—wherever Da Ponte went, he arrived a penniless fugitive and made a brand new and eventful existence. Sheila Hodges follows him from the final glittering years of the Venetian Republic to the Vienna of Mozart and Salieri, and from George III’s London to ny urban.

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He was infatuated with her, and she lived in his house together with her whole family. There was little love lost between her and Da Ponte, though exactly what happened between them will never be known. It has been suggested that they had an affair, and that for this reason Da Ponte was shown the door. His own story is that the man Teresa hoped to marry - with Memmo's blessing - feared his, Da Ponte's, influence over Memmo, and so Teresa decided to offer him such studied insults that he would be bound to take his leave.

In any. case, he would have given himself away immediately, for a few pages later on he says that soon after his arrival in Gorizia (in fact, a few months before) the Peace of Teschen was signed, and the date of this event was 13 May 1779. was expecting to find a severe code enforced with the utmost rigour, was astonished at the free and easy ways of the inn. Soon after he had settled down comfortably in his room it was invaded by a procession of women with baskets full of knick-knacks, ornaments, neec;lles, pins, handkerchiefs, necklaces and ribbons.

He decided to see if he could make a little money writing verse. The Peace of Teschen, which had been signed between Austria and Prussia and ended the War of the Bavarian Succession, had been negotiated by the son of Count Guidobaldo di Cobenzl, one of the most eminent citizens of Gorizia. So - no doubt with an eye to the main chance - Da Ponte composed a celebratory ode which he called Le gare degli uccelli (The Contest of the Birds), the title alluding to the coats of arms of the Habsburgs and of the reigning family of Prussia.

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