Biography of Italian Opera Writer Lorenzo da Ponte Part 2
About the famous Italian opera writer or librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, his biography and how he helped Mozart finish the works Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
LORENZO DA PONTE (1749-1838). Italian librettist.
From Venice, he went to the seminary of Treviso, where he taught for 2 years until he was expelled for writing heretical poems. From Treviso he moved to Padua, living on bread and olives for 6 weeks and supporting himself by hustling checker games in cafes. From there it was back to Venice, where he took up with Angioletta Bellaudi, a married woman who had been peddling her favors since early adolescence. Pregnant by Da Ponte, she went into labor on a sidewalk, where Da Ponte delivered the child. Adding outrage to outrage, the priest and his current mistress opened a brothel, where the cassock-garbed father provided violin background music. Having sired 3 illegitimate children and making, as far as the authorities could see, a general nuisance of himself, he was banned from the city.
For 2 years, Da Ponte knocked about Europe--mostly in Germany--supporting himself through writing. He was continually being bilked and cheated, and he dallied with the ladies, discarding one conquest after another like so many squeezed lemons. (On one occasion he painted himself into a corner by being too attentive to a woman and her 2 daughters.)
Da Ponte settled in Vienna, where he became Poet of the Italian Theatre under the patronage of Emperor Joseph II, writing libretti for the operas of obscure Italian composers. It was there, in 1783, that he met Mozart and the 2 decided to collaborate on an operatic version of Beaumarchais's play, The Marriage of Figaro. They finished the work in 6 weeks and it was an immediate sensation throughout Austria.
In 1787, Da Ponte wrote 3 libretti for 3 different composers in 9 weeks, working 12 hours a day and fortifying himself with tokay, snuff, and the attentions of the nubile 16-year-old daughter of his landlady. Mozart's Don Giovanni was one of these operas--Da Ponte's libretto was partly autobiographical--and it had its premiere in Prague in 1788, followed by Cosi Fan Tutte the following year.
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