In this volume, Rodney Bolt has provided a very useful and illuminating account of Da Ponte`s remarkable life and work.
Best know as Mozart's librettist and collaborator on three of his greatest operas, Da Ponte nevertheless had achieved much outside of that celebrated partnership; by the time of his association with Mozart he had already provided libretti for several other composers – notably Salieri, who got him an introduction that led to his appointment as librettist to the Italian Theatre in Vienna. Bolt's biography has been well researched and provides an enjoyable narrative which follows Da Ponte from Venice, Vienna, London and New York, filling out Da Ponte`s character beyond his recognised role of librettist; what emerges is a study of a complex individual, possessed of a versatile literary talent and agile creativity – but at the mercy of a system of patronage, court intrigue and petty jealousies; his business sense wasn't always the best either. The book contains a fascinating insight into the contextual position of a creative writer and poet at the highest level in the late 18th century world - and his rather accelerated fall from grace after the death of Joseph II – culminating with his time in an America largely indifferent to the culture of Italy, it's language and opera.
A good read as far as biographies go and a must for anyone with an interest in opera.
The back cover blurb quotes the Sunday Telegraph review: "An adventure pure and simple ... crammed with amorous intrigues, narrow escapes, comic mishaps and last minute rescues." Superficially this is true but it makes it sound like the book of the latest Carry On film and that is a gross distortion.
Rodney Bolt has written a meticulously researched account of a remarkable man and placed him in the social and physical context of four very different cities. The Vienna years, for example, will reveal for Mozart lovers the background, both scholarly and gossipy, to the creation and early performances of "Le Nozze di Figaro." "Don Giovanni," and "Cosi fan Tutte."
The author's fluent style and laconic humour make this an easily readable book but they do not obscure the quality of a serious and authentic biography
What a wonderful book! This amazing 'homo universalis' who straddled geographies,cultures and religions, left impressive legacies both in Europe and in America, where his library was the kernel for the Columbia library. Most importantly, his turbulent real life, became his inspiration for the libretti of the 3'big' Mozart operas. What I now understand is that without his unique writing, Mozart, himself could not have made the jump for his three masterpieces, and that Da Ponte's words conditioned the music. The author admirably recounts the meandering life of da Ponte as well as the historical and cultural context of each of the places where he lived. An additional bonus for me: the description of life in Vienna, a city i know thoroughly, transformed my appreciation of each of the streets and buildings!
A page turner. The story takes the reader through this amazing life: starting with rampant anti-semitism,a challenging childhood, sexual intrigues as well as musical politics. And the ending of this long life. The pace never slackens - no wonder he wrote those operas! And the author manages to describe this complex character and his life in a very readable, enjoyable way. And yet it is well researched and I appreciated the academic foundation to this.