Aida

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This article is about the opera, Aida. For other uses of the term, see Aida (disambiguation)

Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a story by Auguste Mariette. First performance: Opera House, Cairo, 1871.

Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, commissioned Verdi to write the opera to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, paying him 80,000 francs, but the premiere was delayed because of Franco-Prussian War. The opera was met with great acclaim when it finally opened at the Ezbekieh National Theater in Cairo and continues to be a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. There are many recordings of it, and it is frequently performed.

Plot synopsis

Aida, an Ethiopian princess, is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, Radames is loved by the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris, although he does not return the feeling.

Characters

  • Aida, an Ethiopian slave, soprano
  • The King of Egypt, bass
  • Amneris, Daughter of the King, mezzo-soprano
  • Radames, Captain of the Guard, tenor
  • Amonasro, King of Ethiopia, baritone
  • Ramfis, High Priest, bass
  • A messenger, tenor
    • Priests, priestesses, ministers, captains, soldiers, officials, Ethiopians, slaves and prisoners, Egyptians, etc.

ACT I

  • Scene I: A hall in the king's palace; through the rear gate the pyramids and temples of Memphis are seen.

Aida, the daughter of the Ethiopian King Amonasro, lives at Memphis as a slave. Her Egyptian captors are unaware of her true identity. Her father has made an incursion into Egypt to deliver her from servitude. But since her capture, Aida has fallen in love with Radames, a young warrior (Romanza, Radames: "Heavenly Ada"). She has a dangerous rival in Amneris, the daughter of the Egyptian king. (Duet, Radames, Amneris: "In thy visage I trace.") Incited by Amneris, the high priest Ramfis (Terzett, Aida, Amneris, Radames: "Oh fate o'er Egypt looming") declares that Radames has been selected by Isis to be the leader of the army against Amonasro. (Battle Hymn: "On ! Of Nilus' sacred river, guard the shores.") Aida's heart is torn between her love for her father and her love for Radames. (Scene, Ada: "Return a conqueror.")

  • Scene II: Temple of Vulcan. In the center an altar illuminated by a mysterious light from above.

Solemn ceremonies and dance of priestesses. (Chorus of priestesses: "O mighty Ptha.") Installation of Radames to the office of commander-in-chief. (Prayer, Ramfis and chorus: "O mighty one, guard and protect!")

ACT II

  • Scene I: A hall in Amneris' apartment.

Amneris' chamber. Festal dances and music. (Chorus of women: "Our songs his glory praising.") Amneris receives her slave Aida and cunningly tricks her into professing her love for Radames by lying and declaring that Ramades has fallen in battle. Aida's distress upon hearing this news betrays her love of Ramades. (Scene and duet, Amneris, Aida: "The chances of war afflict thy people, poor Aida;" Aida: "O love, O joy tormenting.")

  • Scene II: Outside the city walls at the grand Gate of Thebes.

Radames returns victorious. (Chorus, king and people: "Glory to Egypt, to Isis!") Grand triumphal march. The Egyptian king decrees that on this day the triumphant Ramades may have anything he wishes. The Ehtiopian captives are marched in. Amonasro appears among them. Aida immediately rushes to her father, but their true identities are still unknown to the Egyptians. Amonasro declares that the Ethiopian king has been slain in battle. (Amonasro: "This my garment has told you already.") Out of his love for Aida, Ramades uses the King's grant to release the prisoners. The grateful King of Egypt declares him his successor and the betrothed of his daughter. Aida and Amonasro remain as hostages to ensure that the Ethiopians do not avenge their defeat.

ACT III.

  • Scene: On the banks of the Nile, near the temple of Isis.

(Chorus of priests and priestesses: "O thou who to Osiris art...") Amonasro and Aida are held as hostages (Aria, Aida: "Oh, my dear country!") and he forces her to learn from Radames the position of the Egyptian army. (Duet, Aida, Amonasro: "Once again shalt thou gaze.") Radames has only seemingly consented to become the husband of Amneris, and is persuaded through love for Aida to give her the information required by her father. (Duet, Radames, Aida: "Again I see thee.") When Amonasro reveals his identity and flees with Aida. the despairing Radames allows himself to be taken prisoner. (Terzett, Amonasro, Aida, Radames: "I am dishonoured.")

ACT IV.

  • Scene 1: A hall in the Temple of Justice. To one side is the door leading to Rhadames' prison cell.

Amneris (Scene, Amneris: "My hated rival has escaped me") desires to save Radames, but he repulses her (Duet, Amneris, Radames: "Now to the hall the priests proceed"). His trial takes place offstage; he will not speak in his own defense, and is condemned to death, while Amneris, who remains onstage, pleads with the priests to show him mercy. The sentence is that he shall be buried alive. Amneris curses the priests as Radames is taken away. (Judgment scene, Amneris, Ramfis and chorus: "Heavenly spirit, descend.")

  • Scene II: The lower portion of the stage shows the burial place in the temple of Vulcan; the upper portion represents the temple itself.

Aida has hidden herself in the crypt to die with Radames. (Scene and duet, Radames, Aida: "The fatal stone now closes over me.") They accept their terrible fate (Radames: "To die, so pure and lovely"), bid farewell to earth and its sorrows, and await the Dawn, while Amneris weeps and prays above their tomb in the midst of the priestly ceremonies, and the jubilant dance of the priestesses. (Finale, chorus of priests and priestesses: "Almighty Ptha.")

References

Plot after The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version. and the 6th edition of The Victrola Guide to the Opera.


Template:Interwiki-category-checkbg:Аида da:Aida (opera) de:Aida (Oper) eo:Aida es:Aida ja:アイーダ nl:Ada pl:Aida pt:Aida ru:Аида (опера) sl:Aida sv:Aida

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