Da Ponte, Lorenzo (real name, Emanuele Conegliano)

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Da Ponte, Lorenzo (real name, Emanuele Conegliano)

Da Ponte, Lorenzo (real name, Emanuele Conegliano) , famous Italian librettist; b. Ceneda, near Venice, March 10, 1749; d. N.Y., Aug. 17, 1838. He was of a Jewish family, but was converted to Christianity at the age of 14, and assumed the name of his patron, Lorenzo da Ponte, Bishop of Ceneda. He then studied at the Ceneda Seminary and at the Portogruaro Seminary, where he taught from 1770 to 1773; in 1774 obtained a post as prof. of rhetoric at Treviso, but was dismissed in 1776 for his beliefs concerning natural laws. He then went to Venice, where he led an adventurous life, and was banished in 1779 for adultery; subsequently lived in Austria and in Dresden, and in 1782 settled in Vienna and became official poet to the Imperial Theater. He met Mozart and became his friend and librettist of his most famous operas, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. From 1792 to 1798 he was in London, then traveled in Europe, and went to N.Y. in 1805. After disastrous business ventures, with intervals of teaching, he became interested in various operatic enterprises. In his last years he was a teacher of Italian at Columbia Coll. He publ. Memorie (4 vols., N.Y., 1823–27; Eng. tr., London, 1929, and Philadelphia, 1929).


A. Marchesan, Delia vita e delle opere di L. d.P. (Treviso, 1900); I. Russo, L. d.P., Poet and Adventurer (N.Y., 1922);A. Fitzlyon, The Libertine Librettist (London, 1955); S. Hodges, L. d.P.: The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist (London, 1985); A. Steptoe, The Mozart-D.P. Operas: The Cultural and Musical Background to Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cost fan tutte (Oxford, 1988); M. Siniscalchi and P. Spedicato, eds., Omaggio a L. D. P. (Rome, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire