Libretto by A. Ghislanzoni and C. Du Locle based on A. Mariette’s scenario.
Premiered on the stage of the Kyiv Opera on February 15, 1998.
Scene 1: A hall in the King’s palace; through the rear gate the pyramids and temples of Memphis are visible
Ramfis, the high priest of Egypt, tells Radamès, the young warrior, that war with the Nubians seems inevitable, and Radamès hopes that he will be chosen as the Egyptian commander.
Radamès dreams both of gaining victory on the battlefield and of Aida, the nubian slave, with whom he is secretly in love. Aida, who is also secretly in love with Radamès, is the captured daughter of the Nubian King Amonasro, but her Egyptian captors are unaware of her true identity. Her father has invaded Egypt to deliver her from servitude.
Amneris, the daughter of the Egyptian King, enters the hall. She too loves Radamès, but fears that his heart belongs to someone else. Aida appears and, when Radamès sees her, Amneris notices that he looks disturbed. She suspects that Aida could be her rival, but is able to hide her jealousy and approach Aida.
The King enters, along with the High Priest, Ramfis, and the whole palace court. A messenger announces that the Nubians, led by King Amonasro, are marching towards Thebes. The King declares war and proclaims that Radamès is the man chosen by the goddess Isis to be the leader of the army. Upon receiving this mandate from the King, Radamès proceeds to the temple of Vulcan to take up the sacred arms.
Alone in the hall, Aida feels torn between her love for her father, her country, and Radamès.
Scene 2: Inside the Temple of Vulcan
Solemn ceremonies and dances by the priestesses take place. This is followed by the installation of Radamès to the office of commander-in-chief. All present in the temple pray for the victory of Egypt and protection for their warriors.
Scene 1: The chamber of Amneris
Dances and music to celebrate Radamès’ victory take. However, Amneris is still in doubt about Radamès’ love and wonders whether Aida is in love with him. She tries to forget her doubt, entertaining her worried heart with the dance of Moorish slaves.
When Aida enters the chamber, Amneris asks everyone to leave. By falsely telling Aida that Radamès has died in the battle, she tricks her into professing her love for him. In grief, and shocked by the news, Aida confesses that her heart belongs to Radamès eternally.
This confession fires Amneris with rage, and she plans on taking revenge on Aida. Ignoring Aida’s pleadings, Amneris leaves her alone in the chamber.
Scene 2: The grand gate of the city of Thebes
Radamès returns victorious and the troops march into the city. The Egyptian king decrees that on this day the triumphant Radamès may have anything he wishes. The Nubian captives are rounded up, and Amonasro appears among them. Aida immediately rushes to her father, but their true identities are still unknown to the Egyptians, save for the fact that they are father and daughter. Amonasro declares that the Nubian king (he himself) has been slain in battle. Aida, Amonasro, and the captured Ethiopians plead with the Egyptian King for mercy, but the Egyptians call for their death. Claiming the reward promised by the King, Radamès pleads with him to spare the lives of the prisoners and to set them free. Gratefully, the King of Egypt declares Radamès to be his successor and to be his daughter’s betrothed. Aida and Amonasro remain as hostages to ensure that the Ethiopians do not avenge their defeat.
On the banks of the Nile, near the Temple of Isis
Prayers are said on the eve of Amneris and Radamès’ wedding in the Temple of Isis. Outside, Aida waits to meet with Radamès as they had planned.
Amonasro appears and makes Aida agree to find out the location of the Egyptian army from Radamès. When he arrives, Amonasro hides behind a rock and listens to their conversation.
Radamès affirms that he will marry Aida, and Aida convinces him to flee to the desert with her.
In order to make their escape easier, Radamès proposes that they use a safe route without any fear of discovery and reveals the location where his army has chosen to attack. Upon hearing this, Amonasro comes out of hiding and reveals his identity. Radamès feels dishonored. At the same time, Amneris and Ramfis leave the temple and, seeing Radamès with their enemy, call the guards. Amonasro and Aida try to convince Radamès to escape with them, but he refuses and surrenders to the imperial guards.
Scene 1: A hall in the Temple of Justice. To one side is the door leading to Radamès’ prison cell
Amneris desires to save Radamès. She calls for the guard to bring him to her.
She asks Radamès to deny the accusations, but Radamès refuses. Certain that, as punishment, he will be condemned to death, Amneris implores him to defend himself, but Radamès firmly refuses. He is relieved to know Aida is still alive and hopes she has reached her own country. His decision hurts Amneris.
Radamès’ trial takes place offstage; he does not reply to Ramfis’ accusations and is condemned to death, while Amneris, who remains onstage, pleads with the priests to show him mercy. As he is sentenced to be buried alive, Amneris curses the priests while Radamès is taken away.
Scene 2: The lower portion of the stage shows the vault in the Temple of Vulcan; the upper portion represents the temple itself
Radamès has been taken into the lower floor of the temple and sealed up in a dark vault, where he thinks that he is alone. As he hopes that Aida is in a safer place, he hears a sigh and then sees Aida. She has hidden herself in the vault in order to die with Radamès. They accept their terrible and bid farewell to Earth and its sorrows. Above the vault in the temple of Vulcan, Amneris weeps and prays to the goddess Isis. In the vault below, Aida dies in Radamès’ arms.