Act 1, Scene 1 - Risparmia il mio Edgardo (Marianna's aria)
Bologna, Italy, 1858. The Papal Police arrive at Salomone and Marianna Mortara’s home to take six-year-old Edgardo away from his family. The child has been secretly baptized by a maid and according to Vatican Law cannot be raised in a Jewish household. Salomone and Marianna go to the Covent of S. Domenico and beg Inquisitor Feletti to spare the child, in vain: Feletti is following Pope Pius IX’s orders and Edgardo must go to Rome.
Act 1, Scene 2 - Vedo il mio dovere (Pius IX's scene)
Rome. The Pope, moved by religious and paternal feelings, takes Edgardo under his protection, unmoved by the international turmoil that the Mortara case is creating.
Act 1, Scene 3 - Shemà Israel (Quintet with chorus)
Edgardo is taken to the House of the Catechumens, a monastery where Jews are converted to Catholicism. His parents are allowed to meet him, but only in the presence of two priests. At the meeting, Salomone and Marianna are overwhelmed and sing the Shemà Israel to the little Edgardo.
Act 1, Scene 4 - Ah, il Giudeo è diventato maestro di teologia! (Duet of Salomone and Pius IX)
Salomone is granted an audition in the Vatican. During a dramatic confrontation with the Pope and his cardinals, Salomone is left with no hope to see Edgardo again. He swears vengeance.
Act 2, Scene 1 - Tutto il mondo applaude (Porta Pia chorus)
Rome, 1870. Rome is now part of reunited Italy. The Pope is no longer King; the loss of the Church’s earthly power is to the advantage of the State and the liberal movement. Italian soldiers and crowds coming from Porta Pia celebrate the victorious day. New hopes rise for the solution of the Mortara Case.
Sometime later, in a small church. We see a young priest giving a sermon about baptism to a congregation: it’s Edgardo himself, now become Father Pio Mortara; Edgardo has embraced fully the Catholic church, leaving his Jewish roots behind him forever.
Act 2, Scene 2 - Per quanto, Signore (Salomone's aria)
The Mortara’s home, ten years later. Salomone spends the last days of his life in illness and sorrow for the loss of his son and wondering about the meaning of Divine justice. He prays that Edgardo could one day return to Judaism. At the same time we see Pius IX, who is also about to die. He directs his final prayers to his spiritual son, Edgardo.
Act 2, Scene 3 - Son venuto a parlare al vostro sangue (Duet of Riccardo and Edgardo - brothers' duet)
Few days later, Riccardo visits Edgardo’s office to break him the news of Salomone’s death. While we hear a congregation singing the Credo of the Catholic Mass in the background, the two brothers realize how different their lives have become; Riccardo painfully understands that Edgardo will never come back to his family.
Act 2, Interlude - Prima che spiri la brezza del giorno (Rachele's aria)
Interlude - Edgardo starts a long series of pilgrimages and travels which will bring him all around the world. Rachele sings an extract from the Song of Songs commenting Edgardo's journey.
Epilogue - Dio, salvami dai miei nemici (Edgardo's death scene)
Bouhay, Belgium, 1940. During the Nazi occupation the old Edgardo has to confront again his Jewish identity. He has a vision of his old mother, who passed away, mad of sorrow, many years before. When the Nazi Police arrive to take him away, he is found dead.