Verdi's Aïda is the heart-breaking story of an Ethiopian princess in ancient times, enslaved by the Egyptians, who must choose between her country and the man she loves. It embodies the crowning glory of Italian opera, with it's capacity for superlatively stunning sets and melodramatic scenarios. Yet the scene when the thwarted lovers are buried alive together is truly poignant. Here is a brief synopsis:
Aïda, an Ethiopian princess, is torn between love of her homeland, family and the man who loves her. Radames, is the man Aïda loves. He is appointed Commander of the Egyptian Army and sent off to fight the Ethiopian invasion. Amneris senses the feelings between Aïda and Radames which angers her for she is also in love with Radames. Radames returns to Egypt victorious along with a group of Ethiopian prisoners. Included in the group is Amonasro, Aïda's father. Amonasro manipulates Aïda into discovering the battle plan of the Egyptian Army from Radames. He is discovered giving the details to Aïda and Amonasro by Amneris and is sentenced to be buried alive. Aïda is an opera in which emotions run wild and you can probably identify with at least one of the characters.According to Music With Ease:
In "Aida" we find a true wedding of text and music -- sustained dramatic power, noble orchestration; in short, "everything that distinguishes the great Verdi of the third period from the the palty Verdi of the first period." The work is powerful in characterisation, pathetic in sentiment, pure and elevated in style, dignified, solemn, and beautiful. Verdi’s sense of orchestral colour, always acute, had a fine opportunity of asserting itself in the Oriental subject, so remote from the usual operatic groove, and he used it to remarkable effect. Local colour is often a dangerous stumbling-block to composers, but in "Aida" Verdi triumphed most where most had failed....My favorite recording of the opera starred the great American singer Leontyne Price as Aïda. Miss Price really explored the depth of tragedy as well as heroic and sacrificial love as embodied in Verdi's Aïda. Share
In the scene of the consecration of Radames, Verdi employs two genuine Oriental tunes with such consummate art that this scene is not only one the few instances in the history of opera in which Oriental colour has been successfully employed, but, in the opinion of many, the most beautiful part of the opera. Another splendid scene is the judgment of Radames, already referred to, in the fourth Act, where an extraordinary effect is gained by the contrast of the solemn voices of the priests within the chamber with the passionate grief of Amneris on the threshold. The love scene in the third Act shows the lyrical side of Verdi’s genius in its most voluptuous aspect. The picture of the palm-clad island of Philae and the dreaming bosom of the Nile is almost divinely mirrored in the score. The music seems to be steeped in the odorous charm of the warm southern night.