Mercadante, like most of the leading Italian opera composers, worked a good deal in other European countries. In the year 1827 he undertook a long journey to Portugal and Spain. He settled first in Lisbon, where Marara, the manager of the Theatre S. Carlos, had offered him the position of Music Director.
His first work in Portugal was La testa di bronzo. The libretto was Felice Romani's first, written in 1816 for the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, and originally set by Carlo Soliva. The work was commissioned by the Barone di Quintella, an amateur singer, for his own theater: the Baron himself took part in the performance in the "buffo" role of Tollo.
After La testa di bronzo Mercadante wrote two operas for "his" Theatre S. Carlos at Lisbon: Adriano in Siria and Gabriella di Vergy, both staged in the year 1828. In 1829 Marara fell into disgrace and encountered many bureaucratic difficulties that disturbed the theater programs. His state subsidies were withdrawn, and in December the theater was closed for an indefinite period.
Mercadante moved to Spain, where he wrote three more operas (La rappresaglia, Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamaccio and Francesca da Rimini). He returned to Italy in 1831.