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Guiseppe Verdi's Aida
Sung in Italian with projected English translation
October 18, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. | October 20, 2013 - 2:00 p.m. | October 26, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.
October 29, 2013 - 7:30 p.m. | November 1, 2013 - 7:30 p.m. | November 3, 2013 - 2:00 p.m.
November 9, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.
Aida, an Ethiopian princess enslaved to Amneris, the princess of
Egypt, has fallen in love with the warrior Radames. As he rides
into battle, Aida is torn between her love for him, allegiance to her country, and
loyalty to her family. Radames dreams that if he returns
triumphant, he will free Aida and marry her. But Amneris longs for
Radames' affections, too. Romance and hope turn to crushing tragedy
as the story unfolds.
"[Liudmyla Monastyrska] is gifted with a luscious round soprano
that maintains its glow even in the softest notes." - New York
"A real spinto tenor, [Riccardo Massì's] rich full tone is
darkly covered in the middle provoking concern for his upper
register. Yet the high phrases rang out smoothly and easily with no
awkward lurching or strain whatsoever." - Opera Brittania
"Dolora Zajick remains a force of mezzo-soprano nature." -
Financial Times (London)
Aida - Liudmyla Monastyrska
Radames - Riccardo Massì
Radames - Issachah Savage (Oct. 20 and Nov. 1)
Amneris - Dolora Zajick
Amonasro - Scott Hendricks
Ramfis - Ain Anger
King - Robert Gleadow
Priestess - Natalya Romaniw
Messenger - Kevin Ray
Conductor - Antonino Fogliani
Production - Jo Davies
Director - José Maria Condemi
Set and Costume Designer - Zandra Rhodes
Lighting Designer - Michael James Clark
Choreographer - Dominic Walsh
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
Dominic Walsh Dance Theater
The Methodist Hospital System
Margaret Alkek Williams
Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney
Co-production with English National Opera, San Francisco Opera,
and Norwegian National Opera
Photo by Cory Weaver
Ancient Egypt during the time of the pharaohs
In the royal palace of the pharaoh, a young captain of the guard, Radames, learns from the High Priest Ramfis that Ethiopia is threatening the Nile valley. Radames secretly
hopes to be chosen as commander of the army, envisioning a glorious victory that would enable him to free his beloved Aida, the Ethiopian slave of the pharaoh's daughter, Amneris. Unfortunately, Amneris is also in love with Radames; when she sees him with Aida, she senses their love.
A royal messenger reports that the Ethiopians, led by King Amonasro, are indeed marching on Thebes. Radames is appointed commander of the Egyptian army. Hearing this news, Aida is torn between her duty to her country and her love for Radames, since, unbeknown to the Egyptians, she is Amonasro's daughter. Radames is taken to the Temple of Vulcan, where the priests ask the god Ptah to bless the sacred sword that Radames will take into battle to defend Egypt's soil.
The Egyptians have won the war. Amneris and her attendant ladies prepare for Radames' triumphal return. When Aida approaches, Amneris dismisses her attendants and tests her slave, telling her that Radames was killed in the battle. Aida's reaction reveals her love for Radames, and her joy when Amneris admits that Radames is still alive only confirms Amneris's suspicions. Threatening her rival, Amneris departs for the festivities.
Radames and the Egyptian army parade in triumph through the city, bringing with them the conquered Ethiopians. Among them is Aida's father, King Amonasro, who quickly warns Aida not to betray his rank. He pleads for his fellow captives' lives, but Ramfis and the priests demand their death. Radames, however, requests their freedom as his reward. The pharaoh releases all but Amonasro and Aida; he then presents Radames with Amneris's hand in marriage, leaving Aida in despair.
On a moonlit bank of the Nile, Amneris enters the Temple of Isis for a wedding vigil. Aida waits in secret for Radames, but her father appears first, explaining that the Ethiopians have re-armed and will continue to fight. He extracts a promise from Aida to ask Radames where the Egyptian army plans to enter Ethiopia. Radames arrives; Aida slowly convinces him to prove his love by running away with her, and then tricks him into revealing the route of the Egyptian army. At that moment, Amonasro steps out of hiding, identifying himself as Aida's father and the king of Ethiopia. Amneris comes out of the temple and denounces Radames as a traitor. Amonasro attacks Amneris, but Radames intervenes, allowing Aida and her father to escape, while he surrenders himself to Ramfis.
Amneris is torn between her love for Radames and rage at his betrayal. She sends for him and offers to save him if he will renounce Aida. He refuses, and in a fury, she sends him to trial, where he is quickly convicted. Overcome with remorse, Amneris curses the priests who condemn him to death.
Buried alive in a crypt beneath the temple, Radames thinks of Aida, hoping she is safe and well. She, however, has secretly come back to Egypt and hidden in the tomb to await the outcome of his trial. Weak and faint with hunger, she emerges from the shadows to join him: Radames tries desperately to save her, but in vain. The lovers prepare to be united in eternity as Amneris, outside the tomb, alone and desperate, prays for Radames' soul and for peace.