Thursday, January 10, 2013


Lorenzo Da Ponte
At the After Work concert this week we heard two arias by Mozart, sung beautifully by Canadian soprano Layla ClaireAlleluja and a piece from The Marriage of Figaro. 

I go to the After Work concert series at TSO to listen to Tom Allan's stories as much as I do to hear the symphony.

This time he gave some back story about two Mozart contemporaries, celebrities who were the rock star equivalents of their time.  I can imagine them all partying together.

The soprano-castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, who, despite his physical impediments, also gained a reputation as a serial seducer of married women.  Mozart wrote his "Alleluja" aria specifically for him.

Then there was Lorenzo Da Ponte, a study of opposites.  Born a Jew in Venice, someone in the Church recognized his keen intelligence and took the uneducated fourteen-year-old boy under their wing. During his studies, Lorenzo's true brilliance emerged.  He became a priest, as well as a close friend of Cassanova's.  While in the clergy, Lorenzo took a common-law-wife, fathered two children and pursued romantic adventures that culminated in his standing trial for running a brothel and 'abducting a respectable woman'. Then banished from Venice he went on to Vienna where he became a librettist and collaborated with Mozart on Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Cosi fan tutte.  From Vienna to London, from London to New York City. His American career was diverse... a professor of Italian at Columbia University, the proprietor of a grocery and then a book store, and then at the age of 84, founder of an opera house!  Now there's someone's biography I have to look up!

This clip features Canadian soprano Layla Claire working on her craft and her Italian pronunciation:

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