Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Da Ponte, Lorenzo

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DA PONTE, Lorenzo, dramatist, b. in Venice, Italy, 10 March, 1749; d. in New York city, 17 Aug., 1838. His name was an assumed one. He was for two years professor of rhetoric in the seminary of Porto Gruaro, and then removed to Venice. But, after a short stay in that city, he was exiled for writing a political satire. His next place of residence was in Vienna, where he wrote opera libretti and dramas for the theatres. Among his productions were “Don Giovanni” and “Nozze di Figaro,” both rendered famous and enduring by the musical setting of Mozart. Da Ponte next passed several years in London as secretary and dramatist of the Italian opera, and also kept a book-store. In 1805, becoming financially involved, he emigrated to the United States, and settled in New York city, where for many years he gave private lessons in the Italian language and literature. In 1828 he was appointed professor of Italian in Columbia college. Besides his many plays, he wrote sonnets and translations from the English into Italian, and also several books of elementary instruction in the Italian language. He published his own “Life” (3 vols., New York, 1823), and “History of the Florentine Republic and the Medici” (2 vols., 1833).