The year is 1764. For over a year, Josef has been leading a precarious life in Venice. He hopes to become an opera composer. The city, full of talented and already-established composers, seems closed to him. Looking for work as a violinist, he comes into the orbit of a rich young woman. Thanks to her, he gets the opportunity to play at salons. But his real opportunity arises when he becomes the lover of a libertine marquise. She teaches him worldly manners, rids him of signs of a provincial upbringing and introduces him to a hedonistic existence free from religious intolerance. Thus transformed, Josef gets an incan incredible commission: to write an opera for the San Carlo, Europe's largest theatre.