Aida

Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzioni


Stage Director - Dmitry Bertman
Music Director - Kirill Tikhonov
Set and Costume Designers - Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva
Playing time: 2 hours 20 minutes (one intermission)

Premiere: February 3rd, 1996
Language of performance: Italian, Russian subtitles

The airless space of military Egypt, steel-clad pyramids, humans wearing uniforms – the end of geography, where the tragic love, which united, subdued and destroyed the three young, powerful and gifted people took place. A beauty can only save the Earth, if there is a peace.

Production of “Aida” as a part of the festival devoted to G. Verdi as well as the concert of Helikon-opera chorus and orchestra featuring Roberto Alagna (Strasbourg, France, 2001) excited a great interest.

"Our Aida is far from the conventional monumental and decorative show with mighty scenery and mass scenes. The story about a Man and a Woman comes to the foreground. Their love was ruthlessly crushed by totalitarian state. Aida, Radames and Amneris courageously and hopelessly fight for their love with the war and dreadful regime". Dmitry BERTMAN

SUMMARY

ACT I.
Radames learns from the high priest, Ramfis, that Ethiopia soon may bring war to the Nile valley. The young officer hopes he will be chosen as commander of the army, envisioning triumph so he can free his beloved Aida, Ethiopian slave of the proud Princess Amneris. Amneris, who herself loves Radames, jealously senses his feelings for Aida when the three meet. A procession led by the King arrives to con¬firm that the Ethiopians are advancing on Thebes. He appoints the jubilant Radames as Egyptian commander, at which shouts of victory fill the air. Left alone, Aida is torn between her love for Radames and for her native land: though now a slave, she is in fact the daughter of Amonasro, king of Ethiopia. She prays to the gods for mercy.

In the temple, as priestesses chant the praises of Ptah, priests consecrate Radames' sword in a sacred ritual.

ACT II.
Ethiopia has been defeated. Amneris, entertained by slaves, prepares for Radames' triumphal entry into Thebes. When Aida approaches, the princess dismisses her other attendants and tries to learn Aida's private thoughts, first pretending Radames is dead, then saying he is still alive. Certain from Aida's reactions -horror, followed by joy - that her slave loves Radames, Amneris leaves for the festivities. Aida reiterates her prayers. 

Victory is celebrated in parade and dance, a ceremony observed by the King and Amneris. Radames is borne in and crowned with a victor's wreath. Captured Ethiopians follow, among them Amonasro, Aida's father, who signals her not to betray his identity as king. Impressed by Amonasro's eloquent plea, Radames asks as is reward that the priests' death sentence on the prisoners be overruled and that they be freed. The King grants this, as well as Amneris' hand, but keeps Amonasro in custody.

ACT III.
On a moonlit bank of the Nile, Amneris is led by Ramfis to a temple of Isis for a wedding vigil. Nearby, waiting for Radames, Aida is overcome with nostalgia for her homeland. Amonasro, who suddenly appears, preys on these feelings, forcing his daughter to agree to ask Radames where the Egyptian army plans to enter Ethiopia. This she does when Radames appears, ardent with dreams of their future life together. Just as he reveals the military secret, Amonasro steps out of hiding, and Ramfis and Amneris come forth from the temple. While Aida escapes with her father, Radames sur-renders to the priests as a traitor. 

ACT IV.
In a temple of judgment, awaiting trial, Radames is unmoved by Amneris' offer to save him if he will renounce Aida and marry her. When he is led away, Amneris' pride dissolves, her love for Radames revealed by her agony in hearing him  condemned to death. Enraged, the princess curses the judges. Buried alive in a crypt, Radames is joined by Aida, who has hidden there to share his fate. The lovers bid farewell to earth as Amneris, above the tomb, prays for peace.

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