Who is Lorenzo? Lorenzo Da Ponte began life as a poor, Italian, Jewish poet and ended up as a professor at Columbia University. Along the way he became a priest… was driven out of Venice by furious husbands… fled Vienna for being in the wrong political camp… escaped from debtor's prison in London after going bankrupt starting a grand opera company… became a grocer in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Ultimately, Lorenzo Da Ponte became the first professor of Italian at Columbia…. By the way, while in Venna he wrote the librettos for Mozart's three great operas, Cosi Fan Tutti, The Marriage Of Figaro and Don Giovanni.