Mozart's Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte

Classical Academy | Classical Period | Opera



Lorenzo Da Ponte - a name you might now know but a man whose work you will have heard many times.


In the 17th and 18th centuries libretti for operas, oratorios, and cantatas were traditionally written by someone other than the composer. One of these often forgotten librettists was Lorenzo Da Ponte, whose 28 operas by 11 composers include three triumphs by Mozart's hand: Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutte.


Lorenzo himself was a colourful character, his route to his writing career a largely unconventional one. Working as an ordained Catholic priest in Venice, he took as his mistress the married Anzoletta Bellaudi and delivered, with his own hands, their first child. It's "the kind of incident that happens every day", he said. Reprimanded by the vicar-general, he and Anzoletta opened a brothel but, charged with "public concubinage and abduction of a respectable woman" Lorenzo was banished from Venice for fifteen years.


Travelling to the court in Austria in search of work, he came before Emperor Joseph II who enquired how many plays he had written. "None, Sire", was Lorenzo's response, to which the Emperor shot back "Good, good! Then we shall have a virgin muse."


Celebrate the extraodinary combined genius of Lorenzo Da Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in this delightful recording of Don Giovanni, an operatic comedy full of melodrama, supernatural elements and, of course, lots of fun.