From the soft, stirring notes of the prelude to the magnificent Triumphal March and the heart-wrenching finale, Aida has captured the imaginations of operagoers for nearly a century and a half. At first glance an epic, monumental drama of ancient Egypt, it is at its heart the simplest and most tragic of tales—an intimate story of loves forbidden, unrequited, and enmeshed in a struggle for imperial power. Verdi’s boldly atmospheric and colorful score never overwhelms the expressions of tenderness, jealousy, and longing that drive its three central characters: an Egyptian warrior, the enslaved Ethiopian princess he loves, and her royal mistress.

Few opera companies can match the grandeur and style of the Met’s production of Aida. Horse-drawn carriages lead a conquering army and its captives across the vast stage. Grand temples and moonlit riversides evoke an era thousands of years in the past. Colonnades and tombs rise and descend, while the voices of some of the world’s greatest singers bring the story to life—on stage and on screen.

This guide can help your students explore all aspects of Aida—its setting and archeological background, its musical architecture, and the passions at its core. The activities spotlight social and psychological connections among Verdi’s characters, as well as the compositional techniques through which his music brings them to life. Students will consider the Western European essence of this ancient Egyptian opera, as well as the relevance of its artistry a century and a half after its premiere. Calling attention to both the opera’s timeless truths and its cultural contradictions, this guide offers students knowledge and critical resources with which to enhance their enjoyment of this Live in HD production.

Included in the 2012-13 season of HD Live in Schools.