This weekend, Wexford Festival Opera’s acclaimed production of Saverio Mercadante’s Il bravo (The Assassin) will be livestreamed here on RTÉ Culture, live from Wexford - find out more here.
Renaud Doucet is a French stage director and choreographer, and is one half of the creative team Barbe & Doucet. He makes a welcome return to Wexford to direct his fourth production, Il bravo, set in 16th century Venice, where he and André now make their home.
Renaud writes for Culture about the challenges of tackling Il bravo...
Wexford was my first professional contract offer as a director and it was here that I did my first ever show André Barbe (designer) which started of our collaboration 'Barbe & Doucet’. For that and so many more reasons, Wexford has always been a place where it has been very stimulating to create, and every opera that we produce here is very dear to us.
This year I am back and directing Il bravo by Mercadante. There is a big tradition of Mercadante in Wexford, and Il bravo was one of his most famous scores. I live in Venice and the fact that this opera is set in Venice really fascinated me.
For me, creating an opera is like raising a baby and then giving it up for adoption.
When you walk through the streets of Venice, the past is part of your present and it is fascinating to feel the energy of all the people who lived there. At the same time we need to protect, sometimes from itself, this city which is unlike any other. We need to make sure that the experience can be passed on. We need to take the opera for what it is, but we need to be able to give an angle to the piece that is relevant to people today.
I was asked recently to describe this opera in a couple of words, which is obviously a challenge. What I said was: Sometimes we do things which we are forced to do. We can despise ourselves for it, but we do it because it is for the best within the situation. The question is how do we deal with it? In short: Never judge a book by its cover, because what we can think a person is, is not always who the person is.
For me, creating an opera is like raising a baby and then giving it up for adoption. This child that you’ve created, carried and nurtured, who has been part of your life for some years, who came into life in the best conditions possible has to be given up for adoption. You want to make sure that everything is right for this child and that you give it to the best family possible, but at some point, you have to let go.
Listen to excerpts from Il Bravo:
My hope for Il bravo is that the audience will leave feeling that we have a responsibility to the future, that we should recall our past before we make short-term decisions on our present, because those will have consequences on the future and to remember that sometimes it’s wise to take some time to think before making a drastic decision.