The Ethiopian princess Aida and the Egyptian warrior Radamès are in love, but their love is forbidden. As punishment Radamès is sentenced to be buried alive. Aida decides to join him.
The Ethiopian princess Aida and the Egyptian warrior Radamès are in love. Their love is forbidden because of the conflict between their respective countries.
To complicate matters further, the daughter of the Egyptian king, Amneris, is also in love with Radamès. Radamès is eventually entombed alive for treason. Aida, who cannot live without Radamès, has hidden in the tomb in order to die with him.
Opera in 4 acts
Sung in Italian
About 2 hours 30 min + intervals
A hall in the King's palace
Ramfis, the high priest of Egypt, tells Radamès that he will lead the troops in the battle against the Ethiopians. Radamès hopes to be able to return victorious to Aida, an Ethiopian slave captured in Egypt. Amneris, the princess of Egypt, is in love with Radamès, but questions his love for her. She suspects that Radamès is in love with Aida.
The Pharaoh, king of Egypt, enters with the priests to announce that Radamès has been chosen by the goddess Isis to lead the troops in the war against Ethiopia.
The Egyptians are unaware that Aida is the daughter of the Ethiopian king Amonasro. Alone, she contemplates her contradictory feelings; the love for her country and the love for Radamès. She prays to God.
Inside the Temple of Vulcan
The high priestess and priestesses pray for the victory of Egypt in the temple of Vulcan. Radamès is led to the altar to receive his sword and God’s blessings.
The chamber of Amneris
Radamès and his troops return after a successful battle. The Egyptian people celebrate with dance and music. Amneris is in her chamber preparing for the return of Radamès. She is worried about Radamès’ feelings towards her and if Aida is in love with him. To find out, she tricks Aida into believing Radamès has died in battle. Aida is heartbroken and confirms her love for Radamès. Finding out that Aida is a rival, Amneris threatens her and leaves.
The grand gate of the city of Thebes
Radamès has won the Egyptian war along with his troops. The Egyptian king declares that he will grant him anything he wishes. Radamès asks for the Egyptian prisoners to be gathered. Aida, upon seeing her Father Amonasro, rushes to him. He quickly tells her not to reveal his identity as the Ethiopian king. Amonasro deceptively tells the Egyptian king that the Ethiopian king (himself) has been killed in battle. Amonasro, Aida and the other prisoners plead for mercy. Ramfis and the priests demand their death. Radamès, on the other hand, asks for the prisoners to be released.
The Egyptian king agrees to Radamès’ wish. Ramfis suggests that Aida and her father should be held hostages to make sure that the Ethiopians will not avenge their defeat. The Egyptian king also gives Radamès his daughter’s hand in marriage, and a promise that he will become the king’s successor as the Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt. Amneris is full of joy as Aida and Radamès despair.
On the banks of the Nile, near the Temple of Isis
Ramfis and Amneris are praying in the temple of Isis. Outside, Aida is waiting for Radamès. Aida’s father, Amonasro, interrupts her and demands her to ask Radamès of the location of the Egyptian army. Aida is torn between the love for Radamès and her father.
As Radamès arrives, her father hides. Radamès confirms his love for Aida, and she convinces him to flee with her to the desert. Radamès reveals where the army plans to attack so that they can escape safely. Upon hearing this, Amonasro reveals himself. Radamès is distort to have betrayed his country and refuses to flee with them. As Amneris and Ramfis leave the temple, they see Radamès in conversation with the enemy. They call for guards. Aida and her father manage to flee with the help of Radamès, who gives himself up as a traitor.
A hall in the Temple of Justice
Amneris tries to save Radamès from the grim ruling of the priests. She pleads with Radamès to forget Aida but Radamès refuses. Amneris dismisses him. The priests come into the judgement chamber and declare their verdict. Radamès shall be entombed alive for treason. Amneris is torn, and she curses the priests as they leave.
The lower portion of the stage shows the vault in the Temple of Vulcan; the upper portion represents the temple itself
Radamès has been put into a dark vault. To his surprise, Aida is there waiting for him. She dies in his arms as Amneris mourns for Radamès.
Aida – Soprano (dramatic)
Daughter of the king of Ethiopia, captured in Egypt, in love with Radamès
King of Egypt – Bass
Amneris - Mezzo-soprano (dramatic)
Daughter of the king of Egypt, in love with Radamès
Radamès – Tenor (spinto)
Egyptian warrior, in love with Aida
Amonasro – Baritone (dramatic)
King of Ethiopia, Aida’s father
Ramfis – Bass
High Priest of Egypt
Often sung off stage
A messenger – Tenor
Place of birth: Le Roncole, Italy
Place of death: Milan, Italy
Verdi is one of our most beloved opera composers with hits like Rigoletto, Aida and Falstaff. He was a very productive composer, writing nearly 30 operas spanning from 1839 to 1893.
In his twenties tragic events unfolded when Verdi lost his two children in infancy and shortly thereafter his first wife. He remarried years later to the renowned soprano Giuseppina Strepponi who became his life companion.
Verdi is known for modernising Italian opera by writing long passages of through-composed music and unifying acts for a more continuous dramatic development. This is more noticeable in his later works. He came to dominate the opera scene after an era of bel canto composers such as Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini.
“To copy the truth can be a good thing, but to invent the truth is better, much better. ”
Verdi was a food lover, adored Shakespeare and the only piece of chamber music he wrote was a string quartet.
Verdi and Wagner were born in the same year. They were known to be rivals even though they never met.
Most prominent operas
I masnadieri 1847
Luisa Miller 1849
Il trovatore 1853
La traviata 1853
I vespri Siciliani 1855
Simon Boccanegra 1857
Un ballo in maschera 1859
La forza del destino 1862
Don Carlo 1867
Ghislanzoni, born in Lecco, Lombardy, wrote libretti for various composers, Aida being his most prominent work. During his lifetime it added up to around 85 libretti for composers such as Verdi, Catalani and Ponchielli. He also worked as a poet, journalist and novelist. During his earlier years he was an aspiring baritone who later gave up the stage.
3d1, 2+1, 2+1, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 1
timp, perc, harp, strings
Aida was premiered in Cairo in 1871, a performance Verdi could not attend. He was instead very much involved in the Italian premieres at La Scala in Milan (1872), Parma (1872), Naples (1873), San Carlo (1873), La Fenice in Venice (1873), Turin (1874) and Bologna (1877) to mention a few.
Today Aida is one of the top 20 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria – Celeste Aida (Radamès)
Aria – Ritorna vincitor (Aida)
Duet – Fu la sorte dell’armi a tuoi funesta (Aida, Amneris)
Aria – O patria mia (Aida)
Duet – Già i sacerdoti adunansi (Amneris, Radamès)