Il bravo

Saverio Mercadante (1795–1870)

Opera in Three Acts

Saverio Mercadante (1795–1870)

Libretto by Gaetano Rossi and Marco Marcello

One of the most significant compositions by the mature Mercadante, Il bravo, ossia La Veneziana ("The Assassin, or The Venetian Woman") is an opera in three acts by Saverio Mercadante to an Italian-language libretto by Gaetano Rossi and Marco Marcello. Their libretto was based on the play La Vénétienne by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois, which was in turn based on James Fennimore Cooper's novel The Bravo. The opera premiered on 9 March 1839 at La Scala, Milan and subsequently played throughout Italy and abroad.

Set in 16th-century Venice, the Bravo of the title is a tormented character who long ago killed his wife in a fit of jealousy; unjustly accused of plotting against the state, he has been forced by the Council of Ten to become their secret hired assassin, while his father is held hostage to compel his obedience. The story also involves Pisani, a young man under sentence of banishment, in love with a girl whom he believes to be immured in Venice; Violetta, the girl in question, who has been under the protection of the Bravo since the murder of her guardian by a would-be abductor; and Teodora, a wealthy foreigner living in Venice, who turns out to be not only Violetta’s mother but also the Bravo’s wife, whom he had not killed after all. To compound these complications the Bravo, moved by Pisani’s predicament, allows him to borrow the mask and dagger of his office and impersonate the official assassin for two days. In this capacity, Teodora employs him to rescue her daughter from the stranger who has apparently abducted her (that is, the Bravo himself). At the end of Act 2 Teodora, in the middle of a brilliant ball, sets fire to her own palace; the last act is largely concerned with the revealing of identities and the unravelling of family knots and, although Violetta and Pisani escape to freedom, Teodora is convicted of arson, and her death at her own hand cheats the Bravo of his last hope of happiness.

Il bravo is one of Mercadante’s most interesting and successful operas. The musical structures show a real attempt to fuse the varied elements of early 19th-century Italian opera into a more continuous dramatic texture. It had a prodigious success at La Scala at the time when the young Verdi had just arrived in Milan, and anyone interested in Mercadante’s influence on his great successor can hardly miss the overtones of Sparafucile, and indeed Rigoletto, in the chief character.

There aren't many solo arias in this piece but plenty of duets and ensembles; in addition to the soprano duet mentioned previously there is a wonderful tenor duet in Act 1, which first exploits a cantilena melody Verdi might have been proud of and then moves into a dramatic confrontation. Mercadante was a gifted melodist and a scrupulous composer who insisted that his performers adhere closely to his score in order to ensure that the pacing and effects he had devised came off; he was a real craftsman even if he hadn't Verdi's dramatic instincts.

Previous Wexford performances of operas by Mercadante:

Elisa et Claudio, 1988 / Elena da Feltre, 1997 / Il giuramento, 2002 / La vestale, 2004 / Virginia, 2010

27 October performance sponsored by Terry and Marjorie Neill

21 October, 5 p.m.
24 October, 8 p.m.
27 October, 8 p.m.
30 October, 8 p.m.
2 November, 8 p.m.
Tickets €20 - €150

RTÉ Exclusive Live Stream
Saturday 27 October, 8pm watch here

Midweek accommodation/ticket packages available for this event online here.

Creative Team

Jonathan Brandani


Previous engagements: Conductor (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Daegu Opera House; Il mondo della luna, Haydn, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia; Don Pasquale, Donizetti, Deutsche Oper am Rhein).

Forthcoming engagements: Conductor (La bohème, Puccini, Daegu Opera House; Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, Nino Rota, Minnesota Opera), Music Director of the Young Artists Academy of Daegu Opera House.

Direction and Design
Barbe & Doucet

André Barbe / Renaud Doucet
Canada / France

Previously at WFO: Creative Team (Si j’étais roi, Adam, 2000; Pénélope, Fauré, 2005; Thérèse/La Navarraise, Massenet, 2013).

Previous engagements: Creative Team (La Belle Hélène, Offenbach, Hamburg Staatsoper; La bohème, Puccini, Scottish Opera / Theatre St Gallen; Il matrimonio segreto, Cimarosa, Innsbruck festwochen der alten musik / Oper Köln).

Forthcoming engagements: Creative Team (Don Pasquale, Donizetti, Teatro Carlo Felice – Genova; La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, Offenbach, Oper Köln; Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Glyndebourne Festival).

Lighting Designer
Paul Hackenmueller


Previous engagements: Lighting Designer (Carmen, Bizet, Opera Philadelphia; The Golden Cockerel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Santa Fe Opera; Tosca, Puccini, Boston Lyric Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Lighting Designer (Così fan tutte, Mozart, Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Carmen, Bizet, Seattle Opera; Carmen, Bizet, Irish National Opera).

Assistant Stage Director
Kathleen Stakenas


Previous engagements: Director (La traviata, Verdi, Syracuse Opera); Assistant Director (Turandot, Puccini, Vancouver Opera); Production Stage Manager (La bohème, Puccini, Pittsburgh Festival Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Assistant Director (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Glyndebourne Festival Opera).

Assistant Set Designer
Luca Dalbosco


Previously at WFO: Set Designer (La scala di seta ShortWork, Rossini, 2017).

Previous engagements: Assistant Set Designer (Thaïs, Massenet, Minnesota Opera; La bohème, Puccini, Scottish Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Assistant set Designer (La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, Offenbach, Oper Köln), Set Supervisor (Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, Nino Rota, Minnesota Opera).

Costume Design Assistant
Catherine Buyse


Previous engagements: Costume Designer (La traviata, Verdi, Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini; Adelson e Salvini, Bellini, Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini; Film: In search of Fellini, Director: Taron Lexton, TXL Films / Spotted Cow).

Forthcoming engagements: Costume Supervisor (Film: Spiderman – Far from home, Director: Jon Watts, Sony; TV series: Blood and Treasure, Directors: Tawnia McKiernan, Alrick Riley, CBS; Film: The New Pope, Director: Paolo Sorrentino, 360 Degrees Films).


Il bravo
Rubens Pelizzari

Tenor, Italy

Previous engagements: Loris Ipanov (Fedora, Giordano, Royal Swedish Opera), Pollione (Norma, Bellini, Grand Theatre de Généve), Canio (Pagliacci, Leoncavallo, Teatro Filarmonico di Verona).

Forthcoming engagements: Calaf (Turandot, Puccini), Samson (Samson et Dalila, Saint-Saëns), Don José (Carmen, Bizet).

Alessandro Luciano

Tenor, Italy

Previous engagements: Faust (Faust, Gounod, Festival de Opera de Amazonas), Ernesto (Don Pasquale, Donizetti, Croatian National Theater of Zagreb), Conte d’Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Theater Lübeck).

Forthcoming engagements: Conte d’Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Novosibirsk Opera), Arnold (Guillaume Tell, Rossini, Interlaken Tellspiele), Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, Teatro Verdi di Pisa).

Gustavo Castillo

Baritone, Venezuela

Previous engagements: Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Teatro alla Scala Milan); Peter (Hänsel und Gretel, Humperdinck, Teatro alla Scala Milan).

Forthcoming engagements: Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Tuscany tour); Sharpless (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Tuscany tour); Thamar (Ali Babà e i 40 ladroni, Cherubini, Teatro alla Scala Milan).


Simon Mechlinski

Baritone, Poland

Previous engagements: Yamadori (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Glyndebourne Opera Festival), Fritz Kothner (Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Wagner, Poznan Opera), Evgeny Onegin (Evgeny Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Dortmund Opera).

Forthcoming engagements: Evgeny Onegin (Evgeny Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Opér de Toulon), Foka (Charodeyka, Tchaikovsky, Opéra de Lyon).

Ekaterina Bakanova

Soprano, Russia

Previously at WFO: Barce (Hubička, Smetana, 2010); Serpina (La serva padrona, ShortWork, Pergolesi, 2010)

Previous engagements: Violetta (La traviata, Verdi, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos – Lisbon, Royal Opera House Covent Garden), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Teatro Filarmonico – Verona), Magda (La rondine, Puccini, Teatro del Maggio – Florence, Toulouse Opéra).

Forthcoming engagements: Violetta (La traviata, Verdi, Teatro del Maggio – Florence), Leila (Les Pêcheurs de perles, Bizet, Fundacio Gran Teatre del Liceu – Barcelona), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Offenbach, National Centre for Performing Arts – Beijing).

Yasko Sato

Soprano, Japan

Previous engagements: Cio‑Cio‑san (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Seattle Opera); Tosca (Tosca, Puccini, Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo); Cio-Cio-san (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino).

Forthcoming engagements: Aida (Aida, Verdi, Trapani Festival), Cio-Cio-san (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Opéra Royal de Wallonie), Cio-Cio-san (Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Tokyo National Theatre).

José de Eça

Tenor, Portugal

Previous engagements: Don Curzio (Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Festival Internacional de Música de Gaia), Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Festival Internacional de Música de Gaia).

Toni Nežić

Bass, Croatia

Previously at WFO: Un Mujich (Risurrezione, Alfano, 2017), Sparafucile (Rigoletto ShortWork, Verdi, 2017).

Previous engagements: Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Lyric opera studio Weimar), Claudio (Agrippina, Handel, Croatian National theatre).

Forthcoming engagements: Bass Soloist (Salut au Monde, Milko Kelemen, Music Biennale Zagreb).

Richard Shaffrey

Tenor, Ireland

Previously at WFO: Il Cancelliere di Rudenz (Maria de Rudenz, Donizetti, 2016).

Previous engagements: Chorus (Un ballo in maschera/Roméo et Juliette, Verdi/Gounod, Grange Park Opera), The Officer (Ariadne auf Naxos, Strauss, Scottish Opera), Rodolfo (La bohème, Puccini, Rye Arts Festival).

Ioana Constatin-Pipelea

Soprano, Ireland/Romania

Previously at WFO: Fenitchka (Risurrezione, Alfano, 2017).

Previous engagements: Pamina (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Lismore Opera Festival), Vixen (The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček, Royal Irish Academy of Music), Soprano soloist (Symphony No 4, Mahler, Hibernian Orchestra).

Forthcoming engagements: Soprano Soloist (Opera Arias, Puccini/Dvořák/Massenet, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra).