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The first opera performance of the 2012 Verona season is Don Giovanni, and the last is Aida. This is a brief guide to Giuseppe Verdi’s mammoth production.
Horses, slaves, kings and queens, plus a cast of thousands is what you can expect from Aida. Based in Ancient Egypt, this is probably one of the biggest productions on any stage, and over four acts the story of Aida, the Ethiopian slave of Princess Amneris is told.
In act one the young officer Radamès learns that Ethiopia may soon bring war to the Nile valley. He hopes to be chosen as commander of the army, which will give him the opportunity to free the love of his life, Aida. But the young officer has an admirer, the princess herself, who becomes jealous of her maid as she senses Radamès feelings for her. As a procession of Ethiopians, led by the King, advances on Thebes, Radamès is appointed as Egypt’s commander, leaving Aida torn between her love and her country, and holding onto the secret that she is in fact a princess herself.
Act two begins with the defeat of Ethiopia. Princess Amneris prepares for Radamès' triumphal entry into Thebes, but she still remains jealous of her slave. To confirm her suspicions she first pretends that Radamès is dead, then changes her story saying he is still alive, from Aida's reactions of horror, followed by joy, she knows her slave is in love with  Radamès.
The victory is celebrated at the city gates with a parade, dancing, and Radamès being crowned with a victor's wreath. Following behind the victor are his Ethiopian captives, including Amonasro, Aida's father. He makes a plea for his life and those of others; the king agrees but keeps Amonasro in custody and grants Radamès Amneris' hand in marriage.
On a moonlit bank of the Nile, Act three sees Amneris at the temple of Isis on the eve of her wedding. Nearby, Aida is waiting for Radamès with her father nearby, she has grown homesick for Ethiopia, but is still very much in love Radamès' and needs to know if he will enter her homeland with his army. Radamès' reveals his plans just as Amonasro steps out of hiding, and Amneris comes out of the temple. While Aida escapes with her father, Radamès is forced to surrender to the temple priests and is branded a traitor.
The final act takes place in the temple of judgment. Awaiting trial, Radamès is indifferent to princess Amneris' offer to save his life if he will renounce his love for Aida and marry her. Radamès' is condemned to death and is buried alive in a crypt, where he is joined by Aida, who has hidden there to share his fate. The lovers bid farewell to life as Amneris, above the tomb, prays for peace.

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