by Giuseppe Verdi
Candace Carroll, Esq. and Len Simon, Esq. - Production Sponsors
Robin Angly- Underwriter
At the San Diego Civic TheatreAida is a perfect start to San Diego Opera’s 2019-2020 season. Loyalty to country, love, and betrayal collide when the pharaoh’s daughter Amneris discovers that her rival for the love of the Egyptian general Radames is none other than her Ethiopian slave, Aida. In an ironic turn of events Aida’s father, the King of Ethiopia, demands that she act as a spy for her homeland, potentially destroying the trust and affection of the man she loves. Ancient Egypt is re-created through the sheer beauty of the music and accentuated this season by the stunning theatrical details of projections, larger-than-life set elements, a full symphony and chorus on stage, and one of the most talented casts. From the delicate strains of the prelude through the Triumphal March and, finally, the tragic duet at the end of the drama with its gorgeous melody, Verdi’s Aida continues to be opera’s most beloved score. This new San Diego Opera staging places all of the musical elements front and center creating a complete, immersive, theatrical experience with a world-renowned cast joining the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera Chorus on stage. Accentuated by stunning theatrical set elements by Tony Award® winning set designer Michael Yeargan, and stunning costumes by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, this will be an Aida unlike any you’ve heard or seen. Verdi specialist, soprano Michelle Bradley, makes her anticipated Company and US role debut as Aida, and is joined by tenor Carl Tanner as Radames and mezzo-soprano Olesya Petrova as Amneris. Sung in Italian with projected English translations. The approximate run time is 2 hours and 50 minutes, including one 20 minute intermission. Sung in Italian with projected English translations.
PRE-OPERA LECTURE: The pre-opera lecture begins at 6:40pm before the new start time of 7:30pm for evening performances. The Sunday matinee pre-opera lecture begins at 1:10pm before the 2:00pm curtain.
MAIN STAGE POST-OPERA TALK-BACKS: Stay after the performance for a Talk-Back. Once the curtain falls, there will be a 10-minute break, then join us back in the theatre in the Dress Circle where you can ask questions of the stars, cast, and find out what really happens onstage and backstage!
Scene 1 — In the hall of the King’s palace in Memphis.
The Egyptian High Priest, Ramfis, tells the young officer, Radamès, that the Ethiopians are again at war and a general has been chosen to command the forces against them. Left alone, Radamès hopes he has been named general. He also hopes someday to marry the beautiful Ethiopian slave, Aida, and take her back to her own country.
The King’s daughter, Amneris, is also in love with Radamès and, finding him alone, hints of her feelings. But when Aida joins them, Amneris quickly becomes jealous. Ramfis, the King and court enter. They hear an alarming report from a messenger: the Ethiopians are already invading, led by a fierce warrior named Amonasro. The King announces that Radamès has been chosen to lead the Egyptians in battle and calls on all Egyptians to defend the sacred Nile River. Amneris turns to Radamès and instructs him to return victorious.
Aida remains alone. She prays for the safety of her father, Amonasro. She then realizes that his victory would mean defeat for her beloved Radamès and gives a pitiful prayer for the gods to have mercy on her.
Scene 2 — Inside the Temple of Vulcan.
The priests are gathered for the ceremony of anointing Radamès as General of the Egyptian armies. Ramfis presents Radamès with a sword and intones a solemn prayer for the protection of Egypt’s sacred soil. Radamès joins in the prayer with all the other priests. The ceremony ends with an invocation to the Egyptian God, the Almighty Ptah.
ACT II Scene 1— Amneris’ apartments in Thebes.
Amneris’s female slaves tend to her toilette while singing the praises of Radamès, who has led the Egyptian armies to victory. Aida enters. The Princess feigns sympathy for the girl because her people have been defeated, but her real purpose is to find out whether Aida is her rival for Radamès’s love. She announces his death in battle, and Aida’s cry of anguish convinces the Princess it is as she has suspected. She accuses Aida, announcing that Radamès is alive after all. Aida cries, “Thank God!” bringing their rivalry into the light. The slave begs for pity, but the Princess is passionately bitter. Their exchange is suddenly interrupted by offstage trumpets and a chorus of triumph. Instructing Aida to follow her to the triumphal ceremonies, Amneris sweeps out, leaving Aida to repeat the pitiful prayers she had voiced earlier.
Scene 2 — The gates of Thebes.
Radamès is welcomed with the great Triumphal March. When the King offers him anything he wants as a reward, Radamès’s first request is to have the captives brought forth. A group of captured Ethiopians is presented; among them is their king, Amonasro, himself disguised as a common soldier. Amonasro manages to whisper to Aida not to betray his true identity. When he is asked to speak, he says that Amonasro has been killed; he is but a simple warrior. With great dignity he asks for mercy. The priests are against this, but Radamès and the populace plead for the prisoners. A compromise is reached: all will be freed except Amonasro and Aida, who will be kept as hostages. Then the King announces that Radamès, as his reward, shall marry Amneris. Radamès and the Princess depart while Aida weeps.
ACT III The temple of Isis.
It is the eve of Amneris’s wedding to Radamès, and she must pray. Aida comes for a last rendezvous with her lover. She will bid him farewell and then drown herself in the Nile. She sings with longing for her native land. Before her lover arrives, Amonasro finds her and demands to know where to attack the Egyptian troops with his re-formed armies. Aida must get this information from her lover. She recoils in horror, but Amonasro is so eloquent in describing what defeat will mean for their people that finally she agrees. He hides as Radamès nears. He hopes the pending battle will delay his wedding to Amneris. Aida urges him to desert, but he refuses to turn traitor. She repels him, telling him to marry Amneris and forget her. Finally, he agrees to run away with her and tells her where the soldiers are stationed so they can be avoided. Amonasro, who has been waiting, rushes out, to the horror of Radamès, and tries to drag off the young soldier with him. But suddenly Amneris and the Priest emerge from the temple. As Amonasro and Aida escape, the bitterly disillusioned Radamès refuses to leave and surrenders himself to the Priest.
ACT IV The Judgment Hall and subterranean tomb.
Radamès is to be tried for treason. Amneris waits nearby and demands that he be brought forth. When he comes, she pleads to be allowed to save him; all she wants is for him to give up Aida and marry her. Even when he learns that Aida has escaped and Amonasro has been killed, Radamès turns down her offer, realizing he cannot live without Aida. Amneris reviles him and herself. Her jealousy, she says, will bring death to her beloved. The trial begins; Radamès is charged with deserting camp before battle, betraying his country, his King and his honor. Though called on to do so, he makes no defense. His sentence is then pronounced: he is to be buried alive beneath the altar of the god he has failed to honor. Amneris curses the priests in her anguish. They remain unmoved, and Radamès is led into his tomb and it is sealed shut.
As Radamès awaits death, he utters a soft wish that Aida may be happy and never hear of his fate. A moment later a figure approaches; it is Aida. Hearing of Radamès’s sentence, she has managed to get into the tomb so she can die with him. Radamès cannot bear the thought of Aida’s death, but it is already coming over her. Together they sing a last farewell to earth. Amneris kneels above the tomb and prays for peace.