- Composer:Giuseppe Verdi
- Librettist:Antonio Ghislanzoni
- Creation date:1871
- Creation place:Egypt
- Acts number:4
- Original language:Italian
- Opera House of original production:Opéra Khédival
- Original orchestration:Strings-1 piccolo jouant la 3e flûte, 2 flûtes,2 hautbois, 1 cor anglais, 2 clarinettes si bémol, 1 clarinette basse, 2 bassons, 4 cors, 2 trompettes, 3 trombones, 1 cimbasso, timbales, triangle, cymbales, tam-tam, grosse caisse, Musique de scène: 2 harpe
Welcome to ancient Egypt, the most grandiose setting of any of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas, but also the backdrop of an intensely intimate drama. A paradox? On the contrary, it offers a highly fertile duality. Aïda is in fact a series of personal tragedies, developing in an impressive decorum, consisting in rituals and pompous processions. The triumphal scenes feature trumpets and drums, while intimate conflicts and love scenes are marked by the soft glow of woodwinds and strings, with, in the background the otherworldly voice of Isis. Under the skies of ancient Egypt, Verdi reaches a new level of maturity and depth in his relentless quest for human truths, giving the tumultuous relations of Aïda, Radames and Amonasro touches of true sincerity. In this marvellous setting the melodic balm of Verdi's music is as fascinating as ever.
Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian general Radames is in love with an Ethiopian slave, Aïda, a love that is threatened by an imminent war between their respective countries. The other threat they face is Amneris, the daughter of the King of Egypt, who is also in love with Radames. Aïda is her slave, and also, due to a twist of fate, her rival. The Egyptian troops are victorious, representing a triumph for Radames, to whom the king betroths his daughter as a reward. But the glorious hero will soon be an outcast, accused of betraying his country by revealing military secrets to Aïda, who is the daughter of the King of Ethiopia, Amonasro. Sentenced to be buried alive, Radames accepts his fate, to the dismay of Amneris, who is willing to do anything to save his life. In the darkness of his tomb, Radames finds Aïda who has come to join him and die by his side.
Radames, the captain of the guard, has been selected to lead the Egyptian army in its war against Ethiopia. He is pleased, but dreams of conquering the slave Aïda, who is the captured daughter of the Ethiopian King Amonasro and is also secretly in love with Radames.
The Egyptian people wish Radames and his army victory. Aïda, on the other hand, is torn between her love for Radames and her love for her country.
Princess Amneris fears the worst: is Radames in love with the slave Aïda? Amneris questions the young woman, tricking her into admitting her love. Aïda loves Radames and dares to confess her feelings to her rival! The two women engage in a powerful duet. Not far away, at the gates of Thebes, the Egyptians return victorious from war. The court and the people celebrate the return of their hero, Radames. And his reward: the hand of Amneris…
In fact, Aïda is the daughter of the King of Ethiopia, Amonasro. When she comes to greet Radames on the banks of the Nile, her father appears. He has managed to remain anonymous among the prisoners.Amonasro begs his daughter to consider the terrible situation facing her people, who are defeated and exhausted. She must put her country first, above her love for Radames! In a duet filled with tenderness and resignation, Aïda accepts to question her lover, in hopes of gleaning some information that could help the Ethiopians rise up and attack Egypt.
By speaking to Aïda, Radames has betrayed his country. Amneris will do anything to save him, if only he will defend himself. But Radames refuses to save himself and let Aïda die.He is sentenced to be buried alive, which he heroically accepts. In the darkness of the vault, while he is waiting to die, Radames discovers Aïda, who has hidden there to die alongside him. They bid farewell to life, in a sombre duet where their voices seem to rise to the heavens.