Wexford Festival Opera’s production of Saverio Mercandante’s gem Il Bravo has taken the Best Opera Production honour at The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards. The award’s ceremony, hosted by actors Janet Moran and Nyree Yergainharsian, was held at Dublin’s National Concert Hall on 31 March.

Il bravo was directed and designed by the duo Barbe & Doucet and conducted by Jonathan Brandani. Soprano Yasko Sato performed the role of Teodora. Audiences will have a second chance to see the acclaimed 2018 production from 20 April when it becomes available for streaming on ARTE’s digital culture channel Arte Concert as part of ARTE’s 2019 Opera Season.

Stage director and choreographer Renaud Doucet and set and costume designer André Barbe joined forces in 2000. Since then, they have created over 30 new opera productions and are recognised for their creativity, sense of spectacle and minutely detailed dramaturgy. In addition to Il bravo, the duo’s 2018/19 season includes new productions of La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein at Oper Köln and Die Zauberflöte at the Glyndebourne Festival. They also presented their productions of La bohème at Vancouver Opera, Don Pasquale at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, The Sound of Music and Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Volksoper Wien, and La Belle Hélène at the Staatsoper Hamburg.

Jonathan Brandani is Music Director of the Young Artists Academy of Daegu Opera House. Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times writes, “The final offering, Mercadante’s Il bravo (The Assassin), was almost certainly the most convincing operatic music heard this year, conducted with evangelical zeal by Jonathan Brandani.” In addition to Il Bravo, recent and forthcoming highlights include La bohème and La Traviata at the Daegu International Opera Festival, Mayr’s Medea in Corinto in New York during the inaugural season of Teatro Nuovo, and his return to Minnesota Opera to conduct Il cappello di paglia di Firenze by Rota.

Soprano Yasko Sato earned her doctorate with highest honours at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. She continued her training in Italy with Raina Kabaivanska. Recent and forthcoming highlights include the title role in Aida at Trapani Festival and Madama Butterfly at Tokyo National Theater, Liege Opera House and in Atlanta.