- Giuseppe Verdi. Opera in four acts. 1871.
- Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, after an outline by Auguste Mariette (Mariette Bey), with development of the material by Verdi and by Camille Du Locle.
- First performance at the Cairo Opera House on 24th December 1871.
|Aida, daughter of the King of Ethiopia, now a slave ||soprano|
|Radames, captain of the Egyptian guard ||tenor|
|Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt ||mezzo-soprano|
|Amonasro, King of Ethiopia, father of Aida ||baritone|
|Ramfis, Egyptian High Priest ||bass|
|King of Egypt ||bass|
In the Egypt of the Pharoahs there is war with Ethiopia. The Ethiopian King's daughter, Aida,
has been captured and is now a slave in the service of the Pharoah's daughter, Amneris. Radames
loves Aida but is loved by Amneris. He is appointed general of the Egyptian army and in the second
scene of the second act returns in triumph, to be rewarded by the unwelcome hand of Amneris in
marriage. Aida's father, Amonasro, has been taken prisoner, his life spared at the intercession of
Radames. In the third act he induces his daughter to help him discover the plans of the Egyptian
army, which she does in a meeting with Radames, their conversation overheard by Amonasro. Aida
and Amonasro take flight but the apparent treachery of Radames is now revealed and he is
condemned to death, to the dismay of Amneris. In the final scene he is immured in a stone tomb,
where he is joined by Aida. As they die, Amneris, above the tomb, prays for peace for her beloved
Verdi wrote his Egyptian opera Aida in response to a commission from the Khedive of Egypt for
the opening of the new Cairo Opera House, after rejecting requests for an anthem to celebrate the
opening of the Suez Canal a year earlier. The first performance was conducted by the famous
double-bass player Bottesini. Spectacle, of which some stage directors have made much, is
provided particularly in the return of the victorious Radames in triumph. The story was the
invention of the French egyptologist Auguste Mariette, elaborated in French prose by Camille Du
Locle, before the final Italian text was drafted. Aida remains a popular part of Italian opera
repertoire. Familiar concert excerpts from Aida inevitably include the tenor Celeste Aida (Heavenly
Aida) and Aida's Ritorna vincitor (Return victorious). The grand march has celebrated many an
unoperatic festivity and has allowed spectacular extravagance in more ostentatious productions of
the opera. O patria mia (O my homeland) for Aida in the third act adds a particular poignancy, while
the final death scene of Radames and Aida is also sometimes to be heard in dramatic isolation.