Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, with text by Ghislanzoni. The action takes place in Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs. Ismael Pacha, Khedive of Egypt, commissioned Verdi to write the opera, paying him 80,000 francs. It originally was planned to premier with the opening of the Suez Canal but was not finished in time. It was first produced at Cairo in the new Grand Opera house on December 24, 1871 to great acclaim and continues to be a favorite standard in the operatic repertoire.

Aida is also a musical in two acts with music by Elton John; lyrics by Tim Rice; book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang. First produced on Broadway in 2000. The musical is loosely based on the opera.

Table of contents
1 Operatic Plot
2 ACT I.
3 ACT II.
4 ACT III.
5 ACT IV.

Operatic Plot

Characters:

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 unknown daughter of the ethiopian King Amonasro, lives at Memphis as a slave. Her father has made an incursion into Egypt to deliver her. Aida loves Radames, a young warrior (Romanza, Radames: "Heavenly Ada"), but 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 for Radames, and she remains at Memphis. (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 draws from her the avowal of her love for Radames. (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, Amonasro appears as a captive; unrecognised except by Aida. He declares that the Ethiopian king has been slain in battle. (Amonasro: "This my garment has told you already.") The prisoners are released at the request of Radames, and the grateful King of Egypt declares him his successor and the betrothed of his daughter.

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 only seemingly consents 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 flies 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"), and is condemned to death. The sentence is that he shall be buried alive. (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 come 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 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.")


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