Book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang Based on Verdi’s opera, Aida. Music by Elton John. Lyrics by Tim Rice. The original Broadway production opened on 23 March 2000 and was directed by Robert Falls, with choreographed by Wayne Cilento. The production closed on 5 September 2004, running for a total of 1 852 performances.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
The Egyptian wing of a modern art museum, where a man and a woman touring the exhibit catch each other’s eyes. Amneris, a female Pharaoh, comes to life (EVERY STORY IS A LOVE STORY) and transports us to ancient Egypt. Radames, Captain of the Egyptian army, is returning from an expedition through the land of Nubia, Egypt’s long-time enemy (FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE). When his soldiers capture a group of Nubian women, he finds himself captivated by the fierce and majestic Aida (THE PAST IS ANOTHER LAND). Brought to Egypt as a slave, Aida is saved from certain death in the copper mines by Radames, who sends her as a handmaiden to Princess Amneris, his betrothed.
Radames’ father, Prime Minister Zoser, greets his son with news that Pharaoh is dying and Radames must prepare to become the next ruler of Egypt (ANOTHER PYRAMID). Radames’ Nubian servant, Mereb, is a young man who has learned the tricks of survival in Egypt. Delivering Aida to the palace, he recognizes her as the daughter of the Nubian King (HOW I KNOW YOU). She commands him to keep her identity secret , lest the Egyptians kill her. Presented to Amneris, Aida perceives that the Princess’ love of fashion (MY STRONGEST SUIT) only serves as a mask for her insecurities. At a banquet, Pharaoh announces that Radames and Amneris will wed in seven days, leaving the Captain distraught that his days as an explorer have ended. Together, he and Aida share their dreams and regrets (ENCHANTMENT PASSING THROUGH). Later that night, Amneris worries about her father’s illness and finds Aida someone who understands and encourages her (MY STRONGEST SUIT – REPRISE). Bursting into his fiancées chamber, Radames steals a moment with Aida to share his growing attraction to her.
Taken by Mereb to the Nubian camp, Aida submits to her people’s pleas to lead them (DANCE OF THE ROBE). Later, Radames finds Aida and declares his love for her (ELABORATE LIVES). Unable to fight her feelings any longer, she falls into his embrace. Their bliss is interrupted by news that Radames’ armies have captured Amonsaro, King of Nubia and Aida’s father. Unable to comfort her, Radames leaves Aida in distress. Rallying her dispirited people, Aida assure them that Nubia will never die (THE GODS LOVE NUBIA).
Aida, Amneris and Radames now find themselves entangled in conflicted loyalties and emotions (A STEP TOO FAR). Aida and Mereb bribe their way into Amonsaro’s prison cell, where she is reunited with her father. Mereb hatches a plan to escape with the King during the commotion of Amneris’ wedding. To save her father and nation, Aida must betray the man she loves (EASY AS LIFE). Zoser discovers Radames’ affair and warns his son that it could cost him the throne, but Radames no longer shares his father’s ambitions (LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON). Zoser orders his men to find Aida and kill her.
At the Nubian camp, Aida receives an apology from Radames (RADAMES’ LETETR) for the thoughtless way he acted upon hearing of Amonsaro’s capture. When Egyptian soldiers arrive seeking Aida, Nehebka sacrifices herself so her Princess can live. Now even more determined to leave Radames forever, Aida goes to say good-bye to him over Mereb’s objections (HOW I KNOW YOU – REPRISE). Radames informs Aida that he’s calling off the wedding. She knows this would ruin her father’s escape, but tells him he must go through with it (WRITTEN IN THE STARS). Radames agrees, on condition that she escape to freedom on a boat he will provide. The heartbroken lovers part, but Amneris has overheard their entire conversation and faces the fact that her upcoming marriage is a sham (I KNOW THE TRUTH). News of Amonsaro’s escape disrupts Amneris’ wedding. Radames learns the truth of Aida’s identity when he arrives at the docks just as she is about to board his boat with her father. In the chaos, Zoser slays Mereb and Radames makes possible Amonsaro’s escape. Radames and Aida are arrested for treason.
At the ensuing trial, Pharaoh sentences both Aida and Radames to be buried alive beneath the sands of Egypt. Amneris rises to her role as future Pharaoh by convincing her father to let the lovers die in the same tomb, an act of mercy for two people she has come to love. Facing death, Aida looks to Radames for strength (ELABORATE LIVES – REPRISE). As they are slowly deprived of light and air (ENCHANTMENT PASSING THROUGH), Radames swears he will search for a hundred lifetimes to find her again. Back in the contemporary museum, the spirit of Amneris watches (EVERY STORY IS A LOVE STORY – REPRISE) as the modern man and woman are strangely drawn to one another. They are the reincarnations of Aida and Radames, finding in each other a new beginning.
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