by Giuseppe Verde
Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.
Aida Cast Members
Soprano Marie-Adele McArthur, “possesses a striking voice - unified in its pleasing color, capable of tremendous range, strong enough to easily soar over the combined sonic mass of the orchestra and chorus, and used with acute intelligence.
Young mezzo-soprano Grace Echauri is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, where she made her operatic debut there at a very early age as Maddalena in Rigoletto with the Guadalajara Opera.
Career highlights have included Radames in AIDA with Orlando Opera, Connecticut Opera, OperaDelaware, Nevada Opera, Sacramento Opera, Phoenix Opera, and Pensacola Opera.
Baritone, Donnie Ray Albert, is a regular guest of opera companies and symphony orchestras around the world. He earned his Bachelor of Music at Louisiana State University and his Master of Music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and is presently a resident artist with the Center for Black Music Research at Chicago’s Columbia College.
Celebrated Russian bass and international opera star Mikhail Svetlov is known for the unique range and beauty of his voice as well as for his outstanding acting ability. He studied piano, choral conducting and graduated as a singer from Moscow Conservatory
Baritone and native Arizonan, Andrew Gray, is an outstanding singer and actor with a wide range of performance experience in opera, theatre, oratorio and mime.
The Story of AÏDA
Memphis in ancient Egypt. In the royal palace, the high priest Ramfis warns Radames, a young officer, that Ethiopia may soon declare war on the Nile Valley. Radames hopes that the goddess Isis will choose him as the commander of the army. He envisions that a victory over them would enable him to free his lover, Aida, an Ethiopian slave of hidden royal background held captive by Princess Amneris. Also in love with Radames, the jealous Amneris enters and questions him about Aida. Amneris also suspects she can see love for Radames in Aida’s eyes. Fearing they are planning to be together, Amneris swears vengeance on Aida, whom she considers unfit to be with the young officer.
A message arrives to announce that the Ethiopian army, led by King Amonasro (Aida’s father), is advancing on Thebes. The Egyptian King leads a war procession and Radames is selected as leader of the Egyptian army. The people echo Princess Amneris as she cries, “Return victorious!” and Aida is surprised to hear herself say these words. She contemplates her conflict of loyalty between her native land and her lover and she prays for mercy.
Radames is successful in battle and Ethiopia is defeated. Awaiting his return, Amneris is preparing for Radames’ triumphal homecoming to Thebes. In an attempt to find out if Aida truly loves Radames, Amneris tells the slave that Radames was killed in battle. When Amneris sees the despair this news causes Aida, she reveals that Radames is, in fact, alive. Aida’s joyous response convinces Amneris that Aida does indeed love Radames. Now certain of their love, Amneris warns Aida to ignore her feelings for him because she is just a slave and cannot compete with a daughter of the Pharaohs. Aida almost angrily confesses her royal identity to Amneris, but waits instead and repeats her prayers. At the city gates, Radames returns and his victory is celebrated by a parade and dance. While war captives are being led in, Radames is crowned victor. Among the captives is Aida’s father Amonasro, disguised as an officer, who gestures to her not to betray his royal identity. Amonasro delivers an eloquent plea for mercy and Radames asks that the death sentence on the prisoners be overruled and that they be freed as his reward. The king agrees and offers Amneris’ hand in marriage as Radames’ reward, but keeps Amonasro in custody as a guarantee of peace.
On the bank of the Nile, Amneris is led by Ramfis to the temple of Isis to receive the goddess’ blessing for her wedding. Aida is overcome with nostalgic thoughts of her conquered homeland as she waits for Radames nearby the temple. Her father Amonasro appears and encourages her to betray her lover by asking Radames where the Egyptian army will enter Ethiopia. She battles with her feelings between her father and her lover, but finally agrees to her father’s request. Radames appears and tells Aida he will marry her after his next victory. While Amonasro is hiding close by, Aida reluctantly asks Radames where they will enter Ethiopia. Once Radames reveals the military secret to her, Amonasro steps out of hiding and reveals his true identity. Radames is dismayed by his unwilling act of treason and is soon discovered by Amneris, who declares that Radames is a traitor. Radames submits while Amonasro and Aida escape. Act IV — Radames is awaiting trial in a temple of judgment where Amneris offers to save him if he renounces Aida and marries her. He refuses, choosing death. When he is led away, Amneris is appalled by the consequences of her jealousy and she curses the judges for condemning him. Buried alive in a tomb, Radames is joined by Aida who slips in to share his fate. They bid farewell to earth, while Amneris prays for peace.
© Copyright OPERA NEWS 2007. Reprinted with permission