Sheila Hodges is a writer living in London and author of eight books, as well as articles published in Opera Quarterly, Music Review, and other journals. She was formerly in charge of the editorial department at the publishing house of Victor Gollancz, where she edited all of Daphne du Maurier's books in the last forty years of the author's life.
Although remembered today as Mozart's brilliant librettist for Le Nozze di Figaro , Don Giovanni , and Cosi Fan Tutte , Lorenzo da Ponte had an amazing career as writer, poet, impresario, and entrepreneur as well. After Mozart's death he came to the United States where, having failed as a grocer, he became professor of Italian at Columbia University. At the time, he was highly regarded for his efforts to introduce Italian culture to the New World. Hodges's well-documented account is both an appreciation of his many-faceted character and a moving sociological survey of 18th-century musical life. As the foreword states, this ``is surely the most accurate portrayal of Da Ponte that we shall have in our generation.'' William Shank, CUNY Graduate Sch. Lib.
Hodges... shows us a lover of language, a scholar, contradictory, big-hearted, as swift and many-sided as his libretti. - Publishers Weekly ""Anyone with literary, biographical, musical, or historical interests will delight in this well-written and vivid portrayal of a multifaceted man."" - John Greenhalgh, Classical Music
Readers of this engaging biography may be surprised to learn that Da Ponte, Mozart's librettist, opened a grocer's shop in New York in 1805, then went on to become professor of Italian at Columbia University and a champion of opera in the New World. Born Emanuele Conegliano of Jewish parents, baptized at age 14, Da Ponte was banished from Venice as a licentious priest. Wherever he wentVenice, Vienna, London, New Yorkhe arrived an almost penniless fugitive and built up a new life. Though he wrote or adapted nearly 50 libretti for Salieri, Mozart and other composers, it was Mozart's unrivaled genius that he recognized and helped promote, and if he was not a great poet, he was nevertheless an ideal creative partner. Hodges (Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing House, with the aid of much archival research, rescues Da Ponte from the lingering image of disreputable libertine and shows us a lover of language, a scholar, contradictory, big-hearted, as swift and many-sided as his libretti. (June 15)