Synopsis: Aida

June 16, 2006

The opera Aida premiered at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on December 24, 1871.

Composed by Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto written by Antonio Ghislanzoni

The palace in Egypt

Egypt and Ethiopia are warring kingdoms. Radames hopes to be chosen commander of the Egyptian armies and to be welcomed as a hero by his country and his beloved Aida. Aida, an Ethiopian, had been captured and enslaved by the Egyptians.

Princess Amneris, daughter of the Pharaoh enters. She is in love with Radames and suspicious of the relationship between Radames and Aida. His reaction to Aida as she enters the palace further confirms Amneris’s suspicion.

The Ethiopians have invaded and are now advancing toward the capital. Radames is appointed the leader of the Egyptian army.

No one notices Aida’s distress at the coming battle for no one knows her true identity. She is the daughter of the Ethiopian king, Amonasro, and is torn between loyalty to her father and her love for Radames.

The temple

During a sacred ritual, the priest inaugurates Radames as commander.

Amneris's chamber

Feigning sympathy for the plight of Aida’s country, Amneris seeks to trick Aida in to revealing her love for Radames.

Amneris lies and announces the death of Radames. Aida's reaction exposes her true feelings for him, thus angering Amneris.

The city walls

The Egyptians gather to celebrate the victory of Radames over the Ethiopians. The Egyptian king promises to fulfill all of his wishes.

The Ethiopian captives are brought in. Aida recognizes her father among them and tells everyone. She stops short of revealing that he is also the king.

Aida's father tells them that the Ethiopian king was killed and pleads for the freedom of the captives.

For his reward, Radames asks that the prisoners be set free. The Pharaoh consents and also grants him Amneris's hand in marriage and succession to the throne. Aida and her father are to remain as hostages should the Ethiopians attack.

The bank of the Nile

Aida laments that she will never see her homeland again. Her father appears. He realizes that she loves Radames. He tells her that she can return to their homeland, if she uncovers the planned route of the Egyptian armies.

Aida at first refuses. But she eventually decides to accept her duty to her country.

Aida's father hides as Radames approaches. Aida is able to get Radames to tell her the route of the Egyptian troops. Just then, Aida's fatheremerges and declares that his army will be waiting.

Amneris has also overheard the betrayal. Overcome by his own treachery, Radames surrenders to the priests while Aida and her father escape amidst the confusion.

The palace

Amneris wishes to save Radames who is to be brought before the priest for his trial. She begs him to defend himself. He refuses. Without Aida, he would rather die. Radames’s sentence is to be sealed alive in a tomb.

The tomb

Alone, Radames prays for Aida. She emerges from the shadows having crept into the tomb to die with him.

In their last moments together, the couple say farewell to this world and its many sorrows.

See also:

Upcoming performances of Aida in Europe »

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