One Score 2013


By John Schauer


Act I

Amneris, the daughter of the king (pharaoh) of Egypt, is in love with Radames, the captain of the Egyptian guards. He, however, is secretly in love with Amneris’s Ethiopian slave, Aida, who is (unbeknownst to anyone else) the daughter of the Ethiopian king, Amonasro. In the face of an uprising of the Ethiopian enemy, Ramfis, the Egyptian high priest, announces that the goddess Isis has named the soldier who is to quell the uprising: Radames. Amneris suspects that he does not return her affection, while Aida has mixed emotions, wanting Radames to return safely but realizing it will mean the defeat of her own people.

Act II

Amneris confirms her suspicions by first falsely telling Aida that Radames has been killed, then revealing that he lives, while observing Aida’s reactions. Trumpet fanfares announce Radames’s triumphant return, which is portrayed in a lavish pageant that includes massive choruses, a grand procession and exotic ballet. When the conquered prisoners are brought out, Aida is devastated to see her father, Amonasro, among them, but he secretly signals to her not to let on that she recognizes him. Amonasro, Aida and the prisoners beg for mercy; Ramfis and the other priests demand death for the prisoners, but when the king of Egypt offers Radames a reward, he requests clemency for the Ethiopians. The king agrees and gives Radames one additional reward: the hand of Amneris in marriage.


While Amneris and Ramfis enter the temple of Isis to pray on the evening of her marriage, Aida secretly meets with her father, who is aware of her affection for Radames but asks her to betray him by learning the route the Egyptian troops will take, so that the Ethiopians can ambush them. His appeal to her patriotism breaks her resolve, and she reluctantly agrees. Amonasro hides as Radames joins Aida, and she prevails upon him to divulge the secret route. When Amonasro reappears, Radames realizes his betrayal as Amneris and Ramfis emerge from the temple and Aida and her father escape. Radames gives himself up to the Egyptian priests.

Act IV

Amneris confronts Radames, now himself a prisoner, and offers to try to help save him, but he is despondent over Aida’s betrayal and wishes only for death. He is next put on trial by the priests but refuses to defend himself, while Amneris listens helplessly to the terrible verdict: Radames is declared a traitor and is sentenced to be buried alive beneath the temple. After he is sealed into the subterranean vault, he discovers that Aida has hidden herself there to join him in death. The two of them declare their love and await death even as Amneris piteously prays for the soul of her beloved.

—Synopsis by John Schauer

Back to OneScore One Chicago 2013