South Downs Opera is delighted to announce we will be staging Verdi’s Aida at the State Hall, Heathfield in October. We are pleased that, once again, the performances will be in collaboration with the Heathfield Choral Society. The staging is being designed and built by Terry Parsons and the costumes designed by Mark Riches and made by Ron Briggs Design. As with Tosca the production will be directed by Mark Riches.
Verdi’s Aida boasts some of the composer’s greatest and most memorable music, for example the arias Celeste Aida, Ritorna Vincitor and O Patria Mia as well as the Grand March in Act II. In harmony with the wonders of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation, we will be creating a suitably spectacular production.
Act I: Radamès, a Captain in the Egyptian Royal Guard, first prays that he will be chosen as the Commander who will lead Egypt into battle against the Ethiopians, but his thoughts are soon distracted by his love for the Ethiopian slave girl, Aida. He dreams of being victorious in battle and winning freedom for Aida. Amneris, the King’s daughter, is also in love with Radamès and suspects that Aida may be her rival for Radamès’s affection. News arrives about the Egyptian defeat at the hands of the Ethiopians. The Egyptians cry for vengeance and Radamès is named Commander of the Egyptian forces. Aida is grief stricken because she loves her father, King Amonasro of Ethiopia, as well as Radamès, who represents her native-country’s enemy. In the Vulcan Temple Ramfis, the High Priest, prays for an Egyptian victory and Radamès is consecrated Commander of the Egyptian armies.
Act II: Egypt has defeated the Ethiopian armies. Amneris longs for Radamès’s return and for his love. She tricks Aida into confirming her own love for Radamès and swears her wrath upon the slave girl. The Egyptian nation celebrates Radamès’s victory. All cry for the execution of the Ethiopian prisoners but Radamès, moved by Aida’s tears, asks the King of Egypt to grant them their freedom. Believing King Amonasro to be dead, the Egyptian King agrees and offers Amneris’s hand in marriage as Radamès’s reward.
Act III: Aida awaits Radamès’s arrival for a secret assignation as Amneris prepares for her wedding. To Aida’s surprise, her father King Amonasro appears instead. He promises to help her and Radamès in return for Aida gleaning from her lover the route the Egyptian army will take the next day, so his Ethiopian forces can ambush them. Radamès arrives and Aida eventually persuades him to flee with her to Ethiopia. He reveals to her the battle plan but to his horror Amonasro approaches and identifies himself as the Ethiopian King. Radamès is distraught. Amneris arrives and Radamès is arrested while Aida and Amonasro flee.
Act IV: Amneris implores the imprisoned Radamès to deny the charges against him. She will save him providing he renounces his love for Aida, but he longs only for death. The Priests pass sentence: Radamès will be entombed alive. Amneris invokes the Gods’ vengeance upon the Priests. In his tomb Radamès is astonished to see Aida there with him. The lovers bid farewell to the Earth whilst Amneris prays for the repose of Radamès’s soul.