Aida is a four-act opera by Giuseppe Verdi, with a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. Set in Ancient Egypt and known for being a grand spectacle, it's since become a popular staple of the operatic canon and receives performances every year around the world.
Radames, an officer in the Egyptian army, wants to become the commander of the invasion of Nubia, so that he may request to marry his beloved Aida, a slave of the pharaoh's daughter Amneris. He doesn't know that Amneris is in love with him, or that Aida is the daughter of the Ethiopian king. Suspecting something between them, Amneris deceives Aida into revealing her love for Radames by claiming he died in the campaign against Ethiopia. Radames gets his wish and defeats Ethiopia, bringing in many hostages, including Aida's father. Seeing Aida's anguish, Radames uses up his one wish from the pharaoh to free the Ethiopian slaves instead of asking for Aida's hand, and the pharaoh publicly engages him to Amneris.
While attempting to meet Radames at a temple before the wedding proceeds, Aida is blackmailed by her father to get Radames to reveal where the Egyptian army will be passing through on its way to defeat the rebelling Ethiopians. Aida convinces Radames to run away with her and he tells her the secret of the army's route. Aida's father chooses that moment to spring out of the bushes, announce that that's where they'll attack the Egyptians and reveal to Radames exactly who he is. Horrified, Radames refuses the chance to rule Nubia with Aida and surrenders to Amneris and the priests, who catch him as Aida and her father flee. He is condemned to be Buried Alive, but Aida sneaks into his tomb before it gets sealed, since she cannot choose between her love and her homeland. The curtain falls as she dies in Radames' arms.
Aida was commissioned by Isma'il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo (now the Cairo Opera House). However, the premiere ended up delayed due to the Siege of Paris during the ongoing Franco-Prussian War, as the scenery and costumes were stuck in the French capital. Instead, Verdi's Rigoletto was performed on November 1st, 1869. Aida would have its premiere on December 24th, 1871, and since then, it has become one of the most popular operas around the world.
Not to be confused with Elton John and Tim Rice's Broadway musical of the same name, although the opera did serve as the musical's inspiration.
- Abusive Parents: Amonasro's method of persuading Aida to get Radames to betray his strategy, namely savagely ranting that Ethiopia would otherwise die if Aida does not do so, comes across as emotional abuse.
- Alto Villainess: Amneris is usually sung by a mezzo-soprano or a contralto.
- Ancient Africa: Aida is a princess from the Kingdom of Ethiopia, which is at war with Ancient Egypt.
- Ancient Egypt: The main setting, of course. Though the exact time period is difficult to specify, many productions set the opera during the Old Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt. The fact that the Pharaoh's palace is located in Memphis also seems to be a reason why.
- Arranged Marriage: Amneris and Radames, to the former's delight.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: While the racial difference isn't mentioned often, it's implied that this is the major reason why Aida and Radames' relationship is forbidden.
- Buried Alive: Radames and Aida's fate.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Amneris, big time. In Act IV, when Aida goes missing, Radames even accuses Amneris of pulling a Murder the Hypotenuse. Amneris didnt, and Aida later joins Radames in the tomb, but he had reason to believe that Amneris might have killed her rival
- Cool Crown: Amneris and the King of Egypt often wear these.
- Costume Porn: Many◊ traditional◊ productions will have plenty◊ of◊ these◊ kinds◊ of◊ costumes◊. It's Ancient Egypt, after all.
- Crowd Song: "Gloria all'Egitto
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Aïda dies in Radames arms at the end of the opera.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ramphis is a fanatical priest with political power, and he is the main antagonist.
- Egyptian Mythology: The Egyptian gods are often mentioned throughout the opera.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The morally ambiguous Amonasro is a baritone, and Sinister Minister Ramfis is a bass.
- Eye of Horus Means Egypt: A given in many traditional productions, of course.
- Final Love Duet: "O terra addio"
- "I Want" Song: "Celeste Aida" is basically Radames' love song for Aida.
- Love Across Battlelines: Radames and Aida, obviously.
- Love Triangle: Aida, Radames and Amneris.
- My God, What Have I Done?: As Ramphis and the priests accuse Radames of treason and sentence him to death, Amneris cries out that it was her jealousy that killed him. By the final scene, she is dressed in mourning, above the tomb where Radames is concealed, and prays for his safe journey to the afterlife, little knowing that Aida, her rival, is dying with Radames.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: According to Amonasro, the Egyptian soldiers put the Ethiopian cities to the sack, kidnapped young women, and killed numerous civilians.
- Royal Blood: Aida, which she manages to keep a secret while she is in captivity under Amneris.
- Scary Black Man: Amonasro
- Scenery Porn: Again, traditional◊ productions◊ will have some very gaudy◊, lavish◊ sets of an Ancient Egyptian kingdom.
- Setting Update:
- Quite a few modern productions update the setting from Ancient Egypt to unspecified war-torn, vaguely Middle Eastern countries in the 20th or 21st centuries.
- My Darlin' Aida, an unsuccessful 1952 Broadway musical, used Verdi's original music but rewrote the libretto to take place in Memphis, Tennessee during The American Civil War, where Radames becomes "Raymond Demarest," a Confederate officer trying to put down a slave rebellion led by Aida's father.
- Sinister Minister: Ramfis, a priest with political power who accuses Radames of treason and has him Buried Alive.
- Song of Prayer: "Immenso Ftha", where the priest's chorus led by a priestess sings praises to the god Ptah. It has a Dark Reprise in the end of the opera, where Radames and Aida hear it after they are entombed alive.
- Spell My Name with an S: In the early 20th century, English-language programs spelled Aida as "Aïda," Radamès as "Rhadames," and Ramfis as "Ramphis."
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Aida and Radames, of course.
- Tenor Boy: Radames has shades of this, but he is sung by a dramatic tenor, whose voice is typically not at all "boyish." He's of an age to be commander of the Egyptian army, so he can't be too young.
- Together in Death: Radames and Aida in the Tomb Scene.