Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
This is a story of love so strong it defies enemy lines. This is a story of a kingdom in triumph and a nation in chains.
This is a story of betrayal.
Verdi’s monumental, transcendent music makes this historic epic a perennial favourite. Our new production comes from the celebrated Italian director Davide Livermore.
He is renowned for high-tech sets so tangible, it’s hard to believe they are just light and shadow. Immersive, impressive, intimate — this is the future of spectacle on stage.
Thrilling young conductor Andrea Battistoni returns to lead this production. Three magnificent casts perform Verdi’s difficult leads. You don’t want to miss the stunning soprano of Amber Wagner, paired with Elena Gabouri as Amneris and Riccardo Massi as Radamès.
Later in the season, rising star Natalie Aroyan takes on her dream role, and Clémentine Margaine, Milijana Nikolic, Diego Torre and Yonghoon Lee join the all-star lineup.
|Conductor||Andrea Battistoni (until 9 Aug)|
|Pier Giorgio Morandi (from 11 Aug)|
|Director & Choreographer||Davide Livermore|
|Set Design by||Giò Forma|
|Costume Designer||Gianluca Falaschi|
|Lighting Designer||John Rayment|
|Assistant Director||Matthew Barclay|
|Aida||Amber Wagner (until 9 Aug)|
|Natalie Aroyan (from 11 Aug)|
|Amneris||Elena Gabouri (until 9 Aug; from 20 Aug)|
|Clémentine Margaine (11 Aug)|
|Milijana Nikolic (13, 16, 18 Aug)|
|Radamès||Riccardo Massi (18, 21, 26 Jul; 1, 7, 13, 18, 22, 27 Aug)|
|Yonghoon Lee (11, 16, 20, 25, 29, 31 Aug)|
|Diego Torre (24, 28 Jul; 4, 9 Aug)|
|Amonasro||Warwick Fyfe (until 9 Aug)|
|Michael Honeyman (from 11 Aug)|
|High Priestess||Jane Ede|
|The King||Jud Arthur (18, 21, 24, 26, 28 Jul; 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 27, 29, 31 Aug)|
|Gennadi Dubinski (22, 25 Aug)|
Please note: this production contains partial nudity.
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 50 minutes, including one interval.
The Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation dedicates this season of Aida to Susan Wakil AO.
The Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation are proud supporters of Opera Australia through the Susan and Isaac Wakil Access Program. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Foundation, more than 5000 people have had access to opera for the first time at an Opera Australia performance.
A rebellion is brewing on Egypt’s borders, and for both the oppressor and the oppressed, loves and loyalties are about to be tested.
Egypt needs a hero to lead their army, and the High Priest has chosen Radamès. Egypt’s fortunes will turn on his sword, but Radamès has a higher purpose. Through victory in battle, he hopes to win the hand of the beautiful slave girl Aida — handmaiden to the princess Amneris, and secretly, an Ethiopian princess.
Aida is torn between her love for the Egyptian hero and her despair for the country he must march against — her homeland.
And the Princess Amneris, who also desires Radamès, is beginning to have suspicions that her hero might prefer her slave…
As Radamès returns to Egypt in triumph, Aida is greeted with a terrible sight — her father Amonasro, the King of Ethiopia, is among the slaves.
Just when all seems lost, the King of Egypt deals another blow: promising the triumphant Radamès his daughter Amneris’ hand.
On the banks of the Nile, the lovers arrange to meet one last time.
But the conquered Ethiopian King has a plan to save his country. Aida has to make a devastating choice.
In the darkness, the King’s plan, Aida’s conflicted heart and Radamès’ steadfast love collide in a devastating finale.
Not afraid of spoilers? Read the full synopsis.
Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs
Scene i: A Hall in the Royal Palace at Memphis
The advancing Ethiopian army is threatening the Nile Valley and the city of Thebes. Ramfis, the High Priest of Isis, tells Radamès that the goddess has chosen the general who will lead the Egyptian army into battle. Radamès hopes that he has been chosen and that he may return victorious and win the hand of Aida, an Ethiopian slave who is handmaiden to Princess Amneris. Amneris secretly loves Radamès herself and suspects from his reaction to Aida’s presence that he prefers the slave to her. The King enters with the priests and his court and announces that Isis has chosen Radamès as the Egyptian commander-in-chief. Amneris presents a standard to Radamès and urges him to return as conqueror. Radamès leaves for the temple where he will be consecrated for battle. Aida is horrified that she has joined in a chorus swearing to destroy her own people. She is the daughter of the Ethiopian king Amonasro, a fact unknown to the Egyptians, and is torn between her love for her country and for Radamès.
Scene ii: Temple of Vulcan
Sacred rites are performed by the priests and priestesses in the temple of Phtah. Radamès is presented with a consecrated sword and blessed for war and victory.
Scene i: The Apartments of Amneris
Amneris and the court ladies prepare for the triumphal return of Radamès until she dismisses them at Aida’s approach. Amneris tricks Aida by telling her that Radamès has been killed in battle. Aida’s misery and subsequent joy when Amneris admits that it is not true confirm Amneris’ suspicions and she now declares herself the rival of a mere slave. Aida is about to retort that she too is a princess when she remembers her danger and pleads in vain for a chance for love with Radamès.
Scene ii: Before the City Gates at Thebes
Soldiers, bearing spoils of war, form a procession celebrating the triumph of Radamès. Amneris crowns him victor and the King offers him any reward he may name. Radamès asks that the prisoners of war be brought in. Aida recognises her father among them. He warns her not to betray his rank. He relates to the Pharaoh how Amonasro died on the battlefield and pleads for mercy for the captured Ethiopians. Radamès begs for the freedom of the Ethiopians and the King agrees to this provided Aida and Amonasro remain as hostages. The King then announces that as reward for his bravery he will offer Radamès Amneris’ hand in marriage. Amneris exults at her triumph and Aida expresses her misery.
The banks of the Nile
Ramfis welcomes Amneris, on the night before her marriage, at the temple of Isis to pray. Radamès has chosen a place nearby for a last meeting with Aida, who sings sadly of her homeland. She is surprised in revery by her father who demands that she help him discover the route which Radamès plans for the next Egyptian invasion. Aida is reluctant but finally yields to his plan.
When Radamès arrives she suggests that they flee together and live happily far away from Egypt. She asks which path they should take to avoid the Egyptian troops. He tells her, whereupon Amonasro steps forward triumphantly and declares himself as the Ethiopian king. Appalled that he has unwittingly betrayed his country, Radamès refuses to flee with them. Amneris and Ramfis emerge from the temple. Aida and Amonasro escape, and Radamès surrenders his sword to the High Priest.
Scene i: In the Temple of Vulcan
Amneris summons Radamès to her presence and pleads with him to declare his innocence. She offers love and the throne on condition that he vows never to see Aida again. Radamès refuses and is led away to his trial. Three times the voice of Ramfis is heard accusing Radamès of treason and each time Radamès is silent. He is sentenced to be buried alive under the altar. Amneris vents her rage against Ramfis and the priests, calling down the curse of heaven upon them.
Radamès has been left to die, and the altar is being put in place above his tomb. He sees a form and thinks it is a vision, but it is Aida who has come to die with him. Together they bid farewell to earth while, above them, Amneris prays that the gods may grant eternal peace to Radamès.
"Aida lights up the stage... with a blaze of vocal and visual gold."
★★★★½ – The Sydney Morning Herald
“The glitziest piece of theatre to premiere in Australia this year."
★★★★★ – TimeOut
"a truly thrilling production"
– The Daily Telegraph
“We haven’t had a more exhilarating night at the opera in a long time.”