The man behind the music.

Lorenzo_Da_Ponte_by_Samuel_Morse_detail

Samuel Morse portrait of Lorenzo Da Ponte

Who wrote the operas Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte and Don Giovanni?  Ask that question 100 times and 100 times you will get the answer “Mozart”.  We could as easily say “Lorenzo Da Ponte”.  Born on this day in 1749 Da Ponte wrote the libretti for 28 operas by 11 different composers, including Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Born as Emanuele Conegliano he was a Venetian Jew.  When his father converted to marry a Catholic Emanuele was given the name of the converting bishop, Lorenzo da Ponte.

After converting Da Ponte studied in the semenary, was ordained as a priest and became a teacher.  But he was a bad priest who had children with a mistress and was ejected from Venice for running a brothel.

He found his way to the Italian Theatre in Vienna and bore an letter of introduction to Salieri.  He secured a job translating libretti and secured a patron.  He went on to write the libretti for the greatest operas of his day.

He lost his sponsor in 1790 upon the death of Emperor Joseph II.  Bearing a recommendation letter from Joseph to his sister, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, he headed for Paris.  His timing could not have been worse.  The French Revolution broke out and Da Ponte changed his travel plans taking a diversion to London.  Struggling for a time, forced to work in menial jobs, he evenually secured a job in Kings Theatre.  But unable to clear debts he fled England for America.

In the USA he worked as a grocer, a teacher of Italian and of Italian literature.  He attempted to bring Opera to New York, but was let down by his lack of business skills.  However, the work he began led to the foundation of the New York Metropolitain Opera and the New York Academy of Music.

Da Ponte is buried somewhere in New York.  There is a memorial plaque in Calvary Cemetery Queens, but that is not his grave.

Patron of the Arts

Without the Archbishop of Salzburg we may never have heard of Mozart.  Without the sponsorship of Pope Julius would we know of Michelangelo?   Since time immemorial the greatest contribution a rich person could make to society was to sponsor artists.  The greatest accolade must go to the patrons of the arts without whom there would be no art.

Become a Patron now!

The beauty of the modern world is that everyone can now rise to the lofty heights.  Anyone can become a patron of the arts thanks to the Crowdfunding movement.

Here is a perfect example.  The Randomer  A movie being filmed in Dublin, Ireland.  For as little as $10 you can become a backer to the project.  You get to become a creator, an owner of a piece of Cinema.  You can build a legacy.

That may sound a little grand, but think about it for a while.  John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, built a palace a Blenheim, and created a legacy which turned up Winston Churchill to lead Britain to victory in WW2.  A legacy is more about values than wealth.  It is a way  to educate your children and grand children about the values prized by you and your peers.

You may not be able to build Blenheim palace, but you can have a movie poster on your wall.  You can say to your grandchildren, “That movie was made because of my contribution”.  The money is different, but the message is just as compelling.

Buy the movie poster here

Best of all is the personal buzz you get from becoming a patron.  The money you contribute gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  The more you give the longer the feeling lasts.  So think no further, get funding now!  Put your name in lights, or be anonymous, the choice is yours.  Be a part of something great!

And now I give you a poem from one of the greatest artists in history, both in and out of the ring.  Mohammed Ali, poet laureate of the boxing ring, used this short poem to express the ability of the individual to stand up and make a change that carries all the people.  On this St Patrick’s Day it is worth remembering that he inherited some of his gift of the gab from his Irish Great Grandfather, Abe Grady, from Ennis in Co. Clare.

A poem by Muhammad Ali:

———

I

We

———

Ali

Cold Turkey

How to address the annual dilemma, using the cold, leftover turkey.

This year I knocked up a recipe that was a big hit.  I am calling it….(fanfare)…Rondo a la Turkey

Ingredients.

1 Onion

Leftover turkey – cubed.  I used breast meat, because I freeze the legs and cook them after Christmas.

Leftover ham – cubed (about a quarter as much as the turkey)

Leftover cream

Leftover fresh parsley.

Method:

Sweat off the sliced onion in a pot with some good olive oil.  Add in the turkey and ham and put on the pot lid to keep in the steam as you heat up the meat for about 10 mins on a gentle heat.  Add in the cream and bring slowly up to a temperature just below boiling (don’t boil the cream).  Toss in some finely chopped fresh parsley.  Season to taste.

Serve on plain steamed white rice.

In case you feel you have heard the name before, it does sound a LITTLE familiar:  Follow the link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geER3iQDO5k

Cold Turkey; by Joshua Mehigan

They’re over now forever, the long dances.
Our woods are quiet. The god is gone tonight.
Our girls, good girls, have shaken off their trances.
They’re over now forever, the long dances.
Only the moonlight, sober and real, advances
over our hills to touch my head with white.
They’re over now forever, the long dances.
Our woods are quiet. The god is gone tonight.