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Lorenzo da Ponte

Poet, b. at Ceneda, Italy, 1749; d. in New York, Aug. 17, 1838

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Da Ponte, LORENZO, poet, b. at Ceneda, Italy, 1749; d. in New York, August 17, 1838. He was the son of a Jew and was at first named Emmanuel Conegliano. When he was fourteen years old his father and the other members of the family embraced Christianity and were baptized, August 20, 1763, in the cathedral of Ceneda. The bishop of the see, Lorenzo Da Ponte, seeing the talents of the lad, gave him his own name and sent him to the local seminary to be educated. Here Da Ponte remained for five years, and then went to teach in the University of Treviso. Political complications sent him to Vienna, where he met Mozart and composed for him the librettos of the operas “Le Nozze di Figaro”, “Don Giovanni”, and “Cosi fan tutte”. He did not remain long in Vienna, but went to London, whence, after a somewhat chequered career, he emigrated to New York. Unsuccessful commercial ventures and unprofitable efforts to establish opera in that city followed, and he then settled down as a teacher of Italian with a nominal connection with Columbia College. Da Ponte enjoys the distinction of being the first teacher in America to lecture on Dante’s “Divina Commedia”. He was buried in the old Catholic cemetery in East Eleventh Street, and as the grave was never marked it cannot now be located. His daughter married Dr. Henry James Anderson, for many years professor of mathematics and astronomy in Columbia College, and a prominent Catholic philanthropist.

THOMAS F. MEEHAN


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