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Interesting Facts 3: Da Ponte

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
/
SC Public Radio

Imagine, for a moment, Mozart walking down Broadway, in New York City.  It’s not so easy. But Lorenzo da Ponte, who wrote the librettos for Mozart’s operas Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Così fan tutte, died a New Yorker.

That’s right. It’s an amazing story, and here are the bare bones, telegraph style: Da Ponte was born in Venice; Jewish, but converted to Catholicism, and became a priest; kicked out of Venice when he had two children with his mistress; wound up in Vienna; ran out of money; moved to London with a different woman, with whom he had four more children; moved to America, opened a grocery store in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; moved to New York, opened a bookstore; became the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia University, also the first Roman Catholic priest to be appointed to the faculty, but also the first to be born Jewish; Lorenzo da Ponte. Believe me, there’s more, but I’m out of time and out of breath.
A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.