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Il Bravo (The Assassin) by Saverio Mercadante from Wexford

The thrilling 2018 Wexford Festival staging of Saverio Mercadante's opera Il Bravo (The Assassin), starring Rubens Pelizzari and Ekaterina Bakanova.

The thrilling 2018 Wexford Festival staging of Saverio Mercadante's opera "Il Bravo" (The Assassin) from the 2018, starring Rubens Pelizzari and Ekaterina Bakanova.

Presented by Tom McKinney

Saverio Mercadante – Il Bravo (The Assassin)

Carlo ("Il bravo") ..... Rubens Pelizzari (tenor)
Pisani ..... Alessandro Luciano (tenor)
Foscari ..... Gustavo Castillo (baritone)
Luigi ..... Simon Mechlinski (baritone)
Violetta ..... Ekaterina Bakanova (soprano)
Teodora ..... Yasko Sato (soprano)
Cappello ..... José de Eça (tenor)
Marco ..... Toni Nežić (tenor)
Messenge r..... Richard Shaffrey (tenor)
Michelina ..... Ioana Constantin-Pipelea (soprano)
Wexford Festival Chorus
Wexford Festival Orchestra
Jonathan Brandani (conductor)

The libretto by Gaetano Rossi and Marco Marcello was based on the play "La Vénétienne" by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois, which was in turn based on James Fennimore Cooper's novel "The Bravo". 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.

For full synopsis visit programme page

3 hours

Music Played

  • Saverio Mercadante

    Il Bravo

    Ensemble: Wexford Festival Opera Chorus. Conductor: Jonathan Brandani.
  • Claude Debussy

    Clair de Lune

    Performer: Joaquín Achúcarro.
  • Cécile Louise Chaminade

    Concertstuck in C sharp minor, Op.40

    Performer: Danny Driver. Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
  • Max Bruch

    Scottish Fantasy in E flat major (4th mvt)

    Performer: Jack Liebeck. Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.



A group of ruffians gather in the square of the Holy Apostles in Venice. They have been summoned by Foscari, a Venetian patrician, who arrives and promises them a great reward. He plans to free a young Genoese girl who is held hidden in the house of old Mafeo. Foscari is in love with this young girl whom he has met in the company of Teodora. The girl is Violetta, and her song interrupts Foscari’s speech. Foscari is all the more determined to carry the girl off and to take his vengeance on Maffeo who has denied him access to the house and rejected his gifts.

In his room, the Bravo gives vent to his sadness. He had once been happy, but then he stabbed his wife Violetta with a dagger, suspecting her of infidelity. Accused of treason together with his father, the Bravo is obliged to act as an assassin and carry out the vengeance of the Council of Ten who in return have spared the life of his father, held in prison as a hostage. Pisani, a young man, enters the Bravo‘s room, asking for shelter for the night. Pisani tells his story: in exile in Genoa, he fell in love with a young girl who is now in Venice. To exact his vengeance, he is looking for the Bravo. When the latter reveals his identity, Pisani asks for his mask and dagger for two days. The Bravo agrees to his request, and Pisani swears to return when the two days have elapsed.

In St Mark’s Square, the people applaud the Doge and his retinue. When the crowd has dispersed, the Bravo appears, dressed as a Dalmatian nobleman. Foscari is also in the square. The Bravo, not recognised in his disguise, warns Foscari to stay away from Violetta. He knows that Foscari had Maffeo murdered by his thugs. A crowd of people bursts onto the scene, calling for vengeance. Maffeo’s dead body has been found, and

the Bravo is held responsible for the murder. Violetta appears, accompanied by ladies. She is not seeking vengeance, just a place where she can withdraw from the world and spend the rest of her life. The Bravo offers to protect her and to be a father to her. Foscari attempts to oppose this solution, but Violetta accepts the Bravo‘s offer. As the two men argue Pisani appears on the Palace steps, dressed as the Bravo. The crowd steps back in horror and moves away. Foscari is led away by his men and Pisani withdraws into the palace



Teodora has had no news of Violetta for two days and asks her servant Michelina to go to Maffeo’s house. Her servant informs her that Maffeo has been murdered and that an unknown man has adopted the girl. Only the Bravo can trace the girl, and when Teodora has admitted that the girl is her daughter she has the Bravo sent for. Pisani, dressed as the Bravo, enters. He promises that he will bring the girl back to Teodora. In his home, the Bravo tells Violetta his life story and reveals to her that he had accepted the blackmail of the Ten when he saw his father on the scaffold. He leaves to visit his imprisoned father. Violetta shares his sorrow and recalls her lost love for Pisani, but now Pisani enters and takes off the mask. He has been called upon to take Violetta back to her benefactress, who is none other than her mother. The Bravo returns, and Violetta withdraws. Pisani tells the Bravo that Violetta is Teodora’s daughter and asks him to allow him to take her back to her mother. The Bravo tells him that he will take her back and that Pisani can ask Teodora for her daughter’s hand the following day. A feast is taking place in the house of Teodora. The Bravo arrives, disguised as a Greek, and with him Violetta, hidden under a veil. When mother and daughter recognise each other the company is taken aback, but then the guests all mock Teodora’s sentiments. Teodora responds to their insults first with a motherly request and then with vengeance, setting the house on fire. She leads her daughter away by the hand.



Teodora asks her daughter’s forgiveness. The Bravo and Pisani arrive. The Bravo asks Teodora to prove the girl is her daughter. Teodora tells him that the only person who could have proved this was Maffeo. Hearing these words, the Bravo realises that he is standing in front of the wife that he thought he had killed. The two now recognise each other. The Bravo is Carlo Ansaldi, and Teodora is his wife who was once called Violetta too. The two rejoice with their daughter, but Pisani now claims Violetta. The Bravo tells him to return at midnight when Pisani will give back the dagger and the mask. In a remote place, we see guards and sentries on patrol. They have brought the Bravo an order, commanding him to kill a stranger. Carlo, Teodora and Violetta arrive. Pisani steps out of the shadows. As he gives back the mask, Teodora realises that the Bravo is her husband, while Violetta sees her promised husband in Pisani. Carlo reveals that Pisani, who has been condemned to death by the Council, must lead the women to safety. Carlo and Teodora bless the young couple as they leave for their gondola.


The Bravo takes out the order sent by the Council which tells him to kill Teodora. The Bravo wishes to disobey this order, but Teodora takes her own life. A messenger arrives, announcing that the Bravo’s father has died in prison and that the Bravo is now free of the dreadful pact imposed by the Council of Ten. It is to no avail. Carlo collapses onto Teodora’s body.