Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

In the Egyptian Wing of a major museum, a crowd admires artifacts from long ago. They gather around the most mysterious object, an ancient burial chamber. Two of the visitors, a handsome man and a beautiful woman, move toward the burial chamber as if they know its secrets. The man is Radames, the woman is Aida. Their eyes meet as a mannequin in Royal Egyptian dress comes to life. She is Amneris, an ancient Pharaoh. Amneris explains that "Every Story Is a Love Story."

Sails fly in as handsome Egyptian soldiers load the riches and spoils of war onto the deck of their ship. They celebrate their courage, along with their captain, Radames ("Fortune Favors the Brave"). They are interrupted by the entrance of Aida, the Nubian princess, and her handmaidens who have been captured as slaves and forced onto the ship. As Aida is put into shackles, she snatches a soldier's sword to challenge Radames. Not knowing that she is a princess, Radames recognizes something special in Aida. He begins to give into his feelings for her and, under the guise of seeing her as potentially dangerous, Radames escorts Aida to his personal berth in the ship's lower quarters.

Radames removes the manacles from Aida's wrists and boastfully gives her instructions in her new role as his slave. Aida rejects Radames' perspective of war, reminding him that the Egyptians have invaded her homeland and robbed her people of their culture. Aida reveals a longing for her life of freedom as she contemplates her past and the history of her people ("The Past Is Another Land"). To her dismay, Aida finds herself in Egypt as the ship docks and the slaves are unloaded.

Radames is congratulated on his bountiful return to Egypt by his Nubian servant, Mereb, and his father, Zoser, the Chief Minister. Zoser, upon seeing the slave women, suggests that they be sent to the deadly copper mines. Radames has another idea. The women's lives will be spared by using them in the harvest, and Aida will be a special gift to Amneris, the Princess of Egypt. Mereb, recognizing Aida's royal name, takes her away, leaving Radames with his father. Zoser explains that the Pharaoh's serious illness will force Radames to marry Princess Amneris sooner than he had planned, making Radames the King of Egypt ("Another Pyramid"). Zoser leaves to meet with the ministers of Egypt in the catacombs. The ministers suspect a traitor among them. Zoser orders the traitor's death and finalizes his plan for the rise of Radames.

Mereb prepares the beautiful Aida, dressed as a Palace Servant, to meet the Princess. He admits that he is also Nubian and knows she is the Nubian Princess ("How I Know You"). Aida asks him to keep her secret – if she is discovered, she will be put to death. Mereb reveals that the Princess Amneris is the betrothed of Radames.

Princess Amneris, flushed from her daily exercise, is surrounded by her doting handmaidens. Amneris is spoiled and complains that Radames has been gone too long. Mereb presents Aida as a gift from Radames. Aida's quick thinking and regal manner catch Amneris' attention. Aida boldly offers to make new clothing for Amneris, feeding her ego and placing her in close contact with the princess. As Mereb leads Aida to the sewing room, Amneris confesses that clothing in her life ("My Strongest Suit").

The Pharaoh's private banquet room is ablaze with activity. Radames, beginning to show feelings for Aida, questions Mereb about her. Amneris enters to greet him. To her horror, Aida discovers that the Nubian slaves have heard of her arrival – her secret is out among her people. The Pharaoh announces that, after his wedding to Amneris, Ramades will never leave the soil of Egypt again. Zoser's poison begins to take effect, and the Pharaoh coughs up blood. The banquet comes to a hasty conclusion. Zoser is giddy with the progress of his plan, but Radames is unhappy with the Pharaoh's announcement. What he loves most is journeying to new places ("Fortune Favors the Brave – Reprise"). After his father leaves, Radames, in a tender moment of unspoken love, calls Aida from the shadows and they discuss the joy of making new discoveries ("Enchantment Passing Through"). Radames is surprised by how easy it is for him to be himself with Aida.

Aida tends to Amneris in her dressing room. The two women discuss the demands of being a princess ("My Strongest Suit – Reprise"). Amneris is surprised by how well her new slave understands her troubles. They are interrupted by Radames, who suggests that Amneris meet him in her bedchambers. After Amneris leaves to prepare for a night with her fiancé, Radames reveals that he wanted Amneris out of the way so that he could question Aida about her past, in private. Just before Radames can confess his love to Aida, a furious Amneris enters. Radames walks out, upset.

Mereb tries to convince Aida to claim her role as Princess and go to the Nubian slaves to give them hope. Through her self-doubt, Aida accepts her place as the leader of her people ("The Dance of the Robe").

Radames discovers Aida at the Nile's edge, washing linen. He offers to make her life easier by elevating her position at the palace, but Aida refuses his offer and asks him to help all of the Nubian slaves. Radames is moved and, overcome with emotion, kisses Aida. He confesses his love for Aida to Mereb. Meanwhile, Amneris vows to make things right with Radames ("Not Me").

Amneris asks Aida, as a friend, to apologize to Radames for her. Aida tries to carry out the wishes of Amneris, denying her own feelings for Radames, but he confesses his love for her and tells her that he will not marry Amneris ("Elaborate Lives"). He gives Aida his amulet, promising that it will give her free passage and protect her. War drums interrupt their embrace, and a soldier enters to announce that the Nubian King has been captured. His excitement about this development in the war against her country horrifies Aida, who cannot tell Radames that the King is her father. As the news of the King's capture spreads through the Nubian slave camp, Aida tries to lead her people from despair ("The Gods Love Nubia").

Act Two

Alone in their thoughts, Amneris wonders why Radames will not show her the attention that she deserves, Radames confesses that his love for Aida could end his life as he knows it, and Aida weighs her love for Radames against her love for her people ("A Step Too Far").

Mereb bribes a prison guard, allowing Aida to speak with her father, King Amonasro. The three devise a plan: during the wedding, the Pharaoh's guards will be busy at the palace, and Mereb believes that he can bribe the prison guard to let King Amonasro escape. The docks are heavily guarded by Radames' soldiers, but Aida explains that the soldiers will let them pass if she shows them the amulet that Radames gave her. She also reveals her true feelings for Radames. The King commands Aida to forget Radames forever – their love can never be. Alone in her thoughts, Aida reveals that forgetting her love is an impossible task ("Easy as Life").

Zoser shows Amneris a giant map of the Nile and explains the latest campaigns of the Egyptian army. Amneris misses Radames, but Zoser assures her that a little loneliness is small price to pay when compared with the gains that Egypt makes on its campaigns. Radames enters and asks Amneris to leave him alone with his father, which she sees as yet another rejection. Zoser reveals that he knows of Radames' feelings for Aida. Radames says that he cares nothing for the throne – he is not power-hungry like his father – but Zoser insists that they are more alike than he thinks ("Like Father, Like Son"). Zoser and his ministers plan to kill Aida to rid Radames of any further distraction.

Radames apologizes to Aida and confesses his love in a note ("Radames' Letter"). Mereb and the Nubians come to wish Aida well on her escape, planned for the following day ("Dance of the Robe – Reprise"). Guards storm the encampment in search of Aida. Nehebka steps forward and claims that she is Aida. They drag her away in Aida's place. Horrified, Aida realizes that she must go to Radames and tell him who she really is. Mereb tries to convince her to stay ("How I Know You – Reprise").

Aida finds Radames walking along the Nile. He tells her that he plans to call off the wedding, but Aida, realizing that his plan will jeopardize her father's escape, begs him to reconsider. Aida explains why she and Radames can never have a life together ("Written in the Stars"). Radames finally accepts that he and Aida can never be together and assures Aida that he will arrange for her safe passage back to Nubia. As the lovers depart, Amneris emerges from the shadows. She has seen and heard everything ("I Know the Truth").

The Royal Wedding is interrupted by the announcement that the Nubian King has escaped. Radames seals off the docks in an effort to allow Aida to escape.

A small boat floats at the water's edge, tied to the dock by a heavy rope. Mereb helps King Amonasro into the boat. knowing that the Egyptians have sounded the alarm. Radames enters and accuses Aida of pretending to love him to arrange this escape with her father, the King. Aida explains that she truly loves Radames, just as Zoser enters to stop the escape. A fight erupts, wherein Zoser stabs Mereb. Radames, in a move to save Nubia, cuts the rope, allowing King Amonasro to be swept to away to his kingdom on the fast current of the Nile. Aida is left on the docks with Mereb dying in her arms.

Radames and Aida appear in chains. Amneris begs Radames to reject Aida to save himself, but he refuses. The Pharaoh enters and announces that Zoser has been apprehended. He sentences Radames and Aida to death. Amneris convinces the Pharaoh to bury Radames and together in one tomb. Alone in the darkness of their cell, Aida and Radames contemplate their lives ("Elaborate Lives – Reprise"). They promise to find each other in the next life ("Finale").

Back in the museum, in modern times, the crowd gathers. The handsome man and beautiful woman circle the model of the tomb. They look up and their eyes meet. They move towards one another.