La Gioconda meets The Borgias in this story of murder, jealousy, rivalry and intrigue in 15th century Venice, based on Lord Byron’s play, The Two Foscari. Verdi proposed this opera to Teatro La Fenice, but its criticisms of governing Venetian families of the time were considered offensive to the still-existing Foscari family. Instead, Verdi premiered the opera in Rome. Powerful, long-ruling Venetian Doge Francesco Foscari has obtained his throne by defeating a political rival and hopes his only surviving son Jacopo will continue the family name. But Jacopo, cruelly tortured and accused of treason by the Council of Ten, has been condemned to exile. Compelled to uphold the law, Francesco feels powerless to save Jacopo from further banishment. Then, pressured to give up his throne, Francesco refuses but relents crying, “Give me back my son and I will obey!” Unaware he has been found innocent, Jacopo bids his wife and children an agonized farewell, but unable to overcome the strains of his cruel treatment he dies as soon as his boat leaves shore. Realizing the bells of San Marco are tolling to announce Jacopo’s death, Francesco dies of grief.