Arena of Verona
Table of contents AIDA - Composer: Giuseppe Verdi


Scene I
At Menfis
Radames learns from Ramfis that the Ethiopians are threatening war and that the Goddess Isis has already decided on the name of the Egyptian supreme commander. Radames is overjoyed at the news and hopes he will be chosen and be able to return triumphantly to Aida, the young Ethiopian slave he loves. Amneris, the King's daughter, appears and he tells her of his hopes, but makes no mention of his feelings for Aida. Shortly after, Aida herself approaches. Amneris sees in her eyes the love she bears for Radames and swears vengeance because she too is in love with the young captain of the guards. In the meantime the King enters preceded by his guards and followed by priests led by Ramfis. A messenger enters bearing the news that the ethiopians have invaded Egypt and are marching against Thebes, led by the mighty warrior Amonasro. The King announces that Isis has appointed Radames supreme commander. The crowd cries out in homage to him, while Amneris presents him with the standard with which he is to return victorious. Only Aida is sad since the victory of Radames, whom she loves, must mean the defeat of her father, who has taken up arms to free her from slavery. In this moment of distress, she calls upon the gods to have pity on her.
Scene II
The temple of Vulcan.
The priests and priestesess sing a hymn to the gods: Radames enters dressed for battle, receives the sacred sword and is consecrated for victory.


Scene I
Amneris' private apartments.
The King's daughter is surrounded by her slaves who are dressing her for the triumphal festivities, while young Moorish slaves perform a dance. When Aida appears, Amneris hides her true feelings and sympathizes with her for the fate of her people, defeated in the battle. Then, to discover whether Aida is in love with Radames, she tells her that he has been killed in the battle. Aida is stricken with grief; Amneris confirmed her suspicions and filled with rage, reveals the truth. Radames is alive and she, Amneris, loves him too. At first Aida proudly declares her love, but then begs for pity. Amneris threatens her, reminding her that she is only a slave and cannot hope to compete with a daughter of the Pharaohs.
Scene II
At Tebe
The population celebrates the victory, while the King and Amneris, together with Aida and other slaves, the ministers and priests, await Radames to celebrate his triumph. A column of soldiers and prisoners arrives, with Radames at its head. The King welcomes him and asks him what he would like as a reward. Radames has the prisoners brought before the King. Among them Aida recognizes her father Amonasro and succeeds in speaking to him briefly. He commands her not to betray him, and, without revealing his true identity, pleads for the King's mercy. Radames also pleads that all the prisoners be freed, but the high priest objects and proposes that at least Aida and her father be held in Egypt, as a guarantee of peace. The king approves this suggestion and announces that he intends to reward Radames by confering the hand of Amneris upon him. While the crowd cheers, Radames and Aida secretly express their sorrow.


Night on the banks of the Nile
Ramfis leads Amneris to the temple to propitiate the goddess on the eve of her wedding. Concealed nearby, Aida awaits Radames, but while she is waiting Amonasro appears and, reminding her of the beauties of her native land, urges her to persuade Radames to reveal the route the Egyptian forces will use to invade Ethiopia. Aida is horrified at his suggestion. Then Radames approaches and Amonasro conceals himself. Aida proposes to Radames that they flee from Egypt, following some secret route unguarded by the Egyptian forces. Radames mentions the gorges of Napata. At that moment Amonasro reappears and reveals his true identity. Radames is horror-stricken, for he realizes that he has revealed a military secret and is dishonoured. At this point Amneris arrives from the temple and cries out at the betrayal. Amonasro seeks to kill her but Radames prevents him, and surrendering his sword to Ramfis, allows himself to be taken prisoner. Amonasro escapes with Aida.


Scene I
Amneris is torn between rage, sorrow and love. She wants to save Radames and has him brought before her. She will implore the King to pardon him if only he will look favourably upon her, she says. Radames refuses. He believes Aida to be dead and life holds nothing more for him: he remains unmoved even when Amneris tells him Aida is still alive. He is then taken back to the dungeon and sentenced to be buried alive under the altar of the god. Amneris bitterly deplores the cruelty of the priests and their punishment.
Scene II
Radames is ready to die and prays that Aida will be able to find happyness one day: but Aida is concealed in the chamber and comes forward to embrace him. Radames laments Aida's harsh fate, but she consoles him with the certainty that the ''angel of death'' will unite them forever. While the two lovers bid farewell to the Earth, Amneris clothed in mourning robes, prostrates herself on the stone covering the entrance to the vault and beseeches the gods to grant peace to the man buried below.

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