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Feb 2009
Lorenzo Da Ponte - Rodney Bolt - Bloomsbury, 2006
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It is probably fair to say that the name "Lorenzo da Ponte" would elicit blank looks from the overwhelming majority of people. His only claim to fame is that he was the librettist for Mozart's three greatest operas (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte). But that was only a small part of his life. He travelled extensively and was also a priest, a libertine, a poet, an impresario, a bookseller, a grocer and a professor, all of which he recounted at considerable length in his memoirs. As such he is a biographer's dream and Rodney Bolt must have thanked his lucky stars for being able to snaffle such a good subject. For the dramatic events of Da Ponte's long life perfectly illuminate the social and political upheavals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and make this more than just a biography of Mozart's librettist.
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