Da Ponte, Lorenzo
A year later Da Ponte immigrated to America, where he failed in attempts to be a grocer, at selling medicines and drygoods, and at running a distillery. After a chance meeting with Clement Clarke Moore, however, he soon began a more successful career, spending most of the rest of his life in New York City as a celebrated teacher of Italian. A pioneer in the dissemination of Italian culture in the United States, he taught (1805–25) nearly 2,000 private pupils and in 1830 was appointed Columbia College's first professor of Italian language and literature (and the first such professor in the United States). His library, bought by Columbia in 1825, was the nucleus of its collection of Italian poetry and miscellaneous literature. In 1833 he helped establish the Italian Opera House in lower Manhattan, the first attempt to create a permanent American home for Italian opera. Da Ponte's last years were marred by poverty and the failure (1836) of the opera house.
See his memoirs (1823–27; tr. 1929; ed. by A. Livingston, tr. 1955, repr. 2000) detailing his extraordinary life; biographies by J. L. Russo (1922, repr. 1966), A. Fitzlyon (1955, repr. 1982), L. J. Hetenyi (1988), S. Hodges (1985, repr. 2002), R. Bolt (2006), and A. Holden (2006); A. Steptoe, The Mozart–Da Ponte Operas (1988); M. Du Mont, The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas: An Annotated Bibliography (2000).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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