Composed by the great Giuseppe Verdi with celebrated librettist Antonio Ghislanzoni, Aida was commissioned for the opening of Khedivial Opera House in Cairo and was first performed on 24th December 1871. Aida received its European premiere at Milan’s La Scala the following year in 1872, to an enraptured audience.
Amongst his other celebrated compositions, Aida is universally revered as one of the greatest operatic masterpieces. Along with La Traviata and Il trovatore, Aida cemented Verdi as one of the most talented composers in history, with his repertoire still regularly performed to captivated crowds across the globe.
Split into four acts, Verdi’s Aida opera is a story of heartbreak and betrayal. Set in the midst of a war between Egypt and Ethiopia, this moving and timelessly tragic love story centres on the ill-fated and forbidden romance of Aida and Radamès.
In Aida, Verdi created rich and captivating characters. From Aida, the Egyptian princess and soprano, to Radamès, the great warrior and lead tenor, scenes are dramatic, moving and evocative. Aida’s characters also include the mezzo-soprano Amneris and baritone Amonasro, bringing Verdi’s beautiful score and instrumental melodies to life.
Set in Ancient Egypt, Aida’s opera story opens on the High Priest Ramfis delivering a message to Radamès, of Ethiopian armies invading the Nile valley. Radamès sees this as an opportunity; appointed as commander of the Egyptian army, he could lead his troops to victory, enabling him to free and finally marry his Ethiopian lover, Aida. Enslaved by the Egyptians and unknown to either Radamès or her captors, Aida is the daughter of Amonasro, King of Ethiopia.
The slave of Amneris, the Egyptian princess, both Aida and Amneris are in love with Radamès. Perceptive by nature, Amneris senses the relationship between Aida and Radamès and grows increasingly jealous. Meanwhile, a messenger reports that Ramfis was correct: Ethiopian troops are fast advancing. Declaring war and naming Radamès as commander, they proceed to the temple for his coronation, leaving Aida alone and in despair, fearful for her love and her homeland.
Learning of Radamès triumph in battle, Amneris becomes resentful and sets out to discover the depth of Aida’s feelings. Telling her that Radamès has perished, she watches as Aida plummets into despair. Amneris declares she will seek revenge and secure Radamès for herself.
In defeating the Ethiopian army and capturing their troops (including Aida’s father, King Amonasro), Radamès returns to Memphis a hero. To show his gratitude, the King of Egypt declares Radamès will marry his daughter, Amneris, and offers to grant Radamès wishes. Thinking of Aida, Radamès requests that the Ethiopians be spared. The King agrees but holds them prisoner.
The night before the royal wedding, Amneris goes to the temple to pray with the High Priest, Ramfis. Seizing his opportunity, Radamès secretly arranges to meet Aida. As she waits outside, King Amonasro appears, reminding Aida of her position and requesting that she find out how the Egyptian army will invade Ethiopia.
Radamès arrives and the two lovers declare their undying love. Disclosing the planned route of the Egyptian army, Radamès tells Aida he will run away with her, as Amonasro reveals both his hiding position and his true identity.
Traumatised by the part he has played, they attempt to pacify Radamès, but to no avail. Amneris and Ramfis emerge from the temple to discover the scene unfolding, resulting in Aida and her father fleeing while Radamès surrenders as a traitor.
Strengthened by Aida’s safe escape, Radamès is unwilling to deny his charges. Despite the desperate pleas of Amneris, who promises to save his life if he renounces Aida, Radamès awaits his fate. The High Priest and his court declare Radamès will be buried alive.
Sealed in a tomb below the holy temple, Radamès hears a noise. Discovering Aida, she declares her love, telling him she has decided to share his sentence. The doomed lovers embrace as the scornful Amneris grieves the outcome of her jealously.
The birthplace of opera, you can witness Aida at the Verona Opera Festival. Explore the Verona itinerary to find out information about upcoming tours, for incredible performances and an unforgettable holiday.
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