Plot and counterplot lie at the heart of Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, and The Marriage of Figaro, the three brilliant libretti that Lorenzo Da Ponte prepared for Mozart. They were also central to Da Ponte's own extraordinary life. His Memoirs record a fantastic variety of romantic, political, and professional intrigues, and tell of meetings with a host of remarkable men. In a life that took him from the canals of Venice to the streets of New York, Da Ponte was at different times priest, professional gambler, proprietor of a bordello, political agitator, court poet, impresario, grocery store owner, and the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia University. His Memoirs, a minor classic of Italian literature, are the picaresque and engrossing story of a man of enormous talent and unsurpassed flair who was, above all, an indefatigable survivor.
"I shall speak of things . . . so singular in their oddity as in some manner to instruct, or at least entertain, without wearying." —Lorenzo da Ponte
About the Author
Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838) was born Emanuele Conegliano, the son of a tanner in a Jewish ghetto near Venice. His father had the family baptized, changing their name to Da Ponte in honor of the local bishop, and enrolled his son in a seminary, where the young Da Ponte soon mastered Latin and the works of the great Italian poets. Da Ponte’s long and exceptionally varied career led him across Europe and, eventually, to New York, where he died some years after opening the city’s first opera house.
"I shall speak of things...so singular in their oddity as in some manner to instruct, or at least entertain, without wearying." —Lorenzo Da Ponte
"[Da Ponte] was in the course of his lifetime the friend of Mozart, the confidante of Casanova, and the protege of the author of The Night Before Christmas...To savor to the full the richness produced by the commingling of such exotic ingredients one must sit down with the Memoirs and follow the gifted vagabond step by step." —Thomas G. Bergin, Yale University