Personalities | Lorenzo Da Ponte | Classical Era | Classical
(Lo-ren’-tso Da Pon’-te) 1749–1838
Lorenzo Da Ponte was born in Ceneda (now Vittoria Veneto); his real name was Emanuele Conegliano – he took the name Da Ponte when he and his family converted from Judaism. Da Ponte initially trained for the priesthood, but his political and sexual liberalism and his obvious literary gifts led him in a different direction. He was offered the position of court poet in Vienna (1783–91) where he wrote librettos, notably for Mozart (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte). He worked at theatres in London during 1794–1805, then went to the US, where he taught, traded and translated. He wrote or arranged some 50 librettos, showing an extraordinary skill and fluency as a writer and a sharp, perceptive wit. Da Ponte remains one of the best-known names in the history of libretto writing.
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