Grand romantic Opera in four acts by GIUSEPPE VERDI.
Text by ANTONIO GHISLANZONI. Translated into German by S. SCHANZ.
English version by KENNEY.
This opera owes its great popularity not only to its brilliant music
and skilful instrumentation, but also to its really magnificent outfit
and decorations. Aida ranks among the best operas of Verdi. The plot
is taken from old Egyp
; and the music, with its eastern and somewhat
sensuous coloring is exquisitely adapted to the scenery.
The scene of action is alternately Memphis and Thebes and the story
belongs to the period when the Pharaohs sat on the throne.
In the first act we see the King's palace at Memphis. Ramphis, the
Highpriest of Pharaoh announces to the Egyptian General Radames, that
the Ethiopians are in revolt and that the goddess Isis has decided who
shall be leader of the army sent out against them. Radames secretly
hopes to be the elected, in order to win the Ethiopian slave Aida, whom
he loves, not knowing that she is a King's daughter.
Enter Amneris, daughter of Pharaoh. She loves Radames without his
knowledge and so does Aida. Amneris, suspecting this, swears to avenge
herself, should her suspicion prove correct.
The King's messenger announces, that Amonasro, the Ethiopian King
(Aida's father), is marching to the capital, and that Radames is chosen
to conquer the foe. Radames goes to the temple to invoke the
benediction of the goddess and to receive the sacred arms.
In the second act Amneris, in order to test Aida's feelings, tells her,
that Radames fell in battle, and finds her doubts confirmed by Aida's
terror. Amneris openly threatens her rival, and both hasten to receive
the soldiers, who return victorious. In Radames' suite walks King
Amonasro, who has been taken prisoner, disguised as a simple officer.
Aida recognizes her father, and Amonasro telling his conqueror, that
the Ethiopian King has fallen, implores his clemency. Radames, seeing
Aida in tears, adds his entreaties to those of the Ethiopian; and
Pharaoh decides to set the prisoners free, with the exception of Aida's
father, who is to stay with his daughter. Pharaoh then gives Amneris
to Radames as a recompense for his services.
In the third act Amonasro has discovered the mutual love of his
daughter and Radames and resolves to make use of it. While Amneris
prays in the temple that her bridegroom may give his whole heart to
her, Amonasro bids his daughter discover the secret of the Egyptian
warplans from her lover. Amonasro hides himself, and Aida has an
interview with Radames, in which he reveals all to her. She persuades
him to fly with her, when Amonasro shows himself, telling him that he
has heard all and confessing that he is the Ethiopian King. While they
are speaking, Amneris overtakes and denounces them. Amonasro
escapes with his daughter, Radames remains in the hand of Ramphis, the
In the fourth act Radames is visited in his cell by Amneris, who
promises to save him from the awful death of being buried alive, if he
renounces Aida. But Radames refuses, though she tells him, that Aida
has fled into her country, her father being slain on their flight.
Amneris at length regrets her jealousy and repents, but too late!
Nothing can save Radames, and she is obliged to see him led into his
living tomb. Amneris curses the priests, who close the subterranean
vaults with a rock. Radames, preparing himself for death, discovers
Aida by his side. She has found means to penetrate into his tomb,
resolved to die with her lover.
While she sinks into his arms, Amneris prays outside for Radames' peace
and eternal happiness.