Notes on the Libretto

The primary source for this text is an undated libretto published by G. Ricordi & C., Milano and printed some time after 1893. The text preserves the general layout of the published libretto, in particular regarding the division of poetic lines among different characters. Stage instructions are enclosed in brackets rather than in parentheses as in the published libretto, italics have been used in some cases to distinguish stage directions that appear in a smaller font in the original, and line numberings have been added. Significant differences from the text as set by the composer, based on the full score published by G. Ricordi & C., are noted below, with the published text on the left and the text as set on the right.

The scene numberings in the libretto represent only the seven different tableaus, not the French scenes. Nevertheless, the French scenes are separated from one another in the libretto by their corresponding character lists and by typographic notations (double horizontal bars). My line numbering is based on the French scenes, and for the purpose of notation the French scenes are referred to by small letters following the Act and Scene designations, e.g. I.1a refers to the opening scene of I.1 between Ramfis and Radamès, I.1b to the following scene between Amneris and Radamès, IIIa to the first French scene of Act III, etc.

The source of the English translation is an undated dual-language libretto published for the Metropolitan Opera under the management of Giulio Gatti-Casazza (i.e. between 1908 and 1935), in which the Italian text follows that of the published Ricordi libretto in most cases where there is a difference from the score. The translation is unattributed. I have supplied four lines of translation for text missing from both the Italian and English.

The source of the German translation is an undated libretto published for G. Ricordi & Co. by Bote & G. Bock. The translation by Julius Schanz follows the published Italian libretto very closely.

The source of the French text is an undated libretto published by Calmann-Levy for the first production at the Paris Opéra (1880). It is not a verse translation (Ghislanzoni is nowhere mentioned), but rather an original versification by Charles Nuitter of the scenario by Camille Du Locle, although of course constrained by the musical metre. Since Verdi was involved with this production, and the score was slightly revised in connection with it, it must be considered an original text in its own right, and is presented as such. I have modified the scene numberings to conform to those of the Italian libretto, along with the layout of some of the stage instructions, and the verse lineation of the prayer in Act I, Scene 2. The French libretto does indeed number the French scenes, and more precisely than that implied by the divisions in the Italian libretto, since Aida's solos in Acts I and 3, the arrival of the prisoners in II/2, and of the priests in Act 4 begin separate scenes. The correspondence is as follows:

ActeScèneScena ActeScèneScena ActeScèneScena ActeScèneScena
I/1 1 1(a) II/1 1 1(a) III 1 (a) IV/1 1 1(a)
2 2 1(b) 2 2 1(b)
3 1(b) II/2 3 2 3 (b) 3
4 1(c) 4 4 (c) IV/2 4 2
5 1(d) 5 (d)
6 1(e) 6 (e)
I/2 2

Title Page {versi} di Antonio Ghislanzoni The title page reads merely "di Antonio Ghislanzoni", but on the cover page it is "versi di A. Ghislanzoni." This is an accurate attribution, in light of the fact that the detailed scenario was the work of others, originally Auguste Mariette Bey, with subsequent contributions and modifications of uncertain extent by Camille du Locle and by Verdi, and that Ghislanzoni, a respected and skilled librettist in his own right, was engaged only for the express task of versification.
Personaggi The list of extra personnel in the score omits Soldati.
I.1b:1 Quale insolita fiamma Quale insolita gioia
I.1c:21 No, sull'afflitta patria No, sulla mia patria
While lines 17–28 are sung together, Radamès comes in before Aida, and both Amneris and Radamès complete the texts of their stanzas before Aida joins the ensemble, contrary to the implications of the order in the libretto.
I.1d:17 Like the first half of the line, «Tremenda, inesorata» is sung by all the men but the King.
I.1d:22 I miei voti fur paghi. Son paghi i voti miei!
I.1d:26 Su! del Nilo al sacro lido Su! del cor prorompa il grido
However, the King later sings «Su! del Nilo al sacro lido» in ensemble with the chorus at 34.
I.1d:42–45 In the score Amneris' lines follow those of Radamès (38–41) and Aida (46–49), which are sung in ensemble.
I.1d:51 Va, Radamès, ritorna vincitor! Ritorna vincitor!
In the score, sung first by Amneris and then echoed by all but Radamès.
I.2:1 Immenso Fthà, Possente Fthà
I.2:4–17 In the score, the 3 verses of the priests alternate with those of the priestess and priestesses.
I.2:6 The «—» separating this verse from the next is not in the printed libretto, presumably because it occurs at a page break.
II.1a:6 Contesti i lauri ai fior Contesti ai lauri i fior
II.1a:23 There is an additional stage instruction in the score immediately preceding this line: [Entra Aida portando la corona]
II.1b:45 comprendi tu? intendi tu?
II.1b:48 [reprimendosi] [reprimendosi e cadendo a' piedi d'Amneris]
II.1b:57 The [suoni interni] are a reprise of I.1d:34–37 (Su! del Nilo al sacro lido etc.)
II.1b:68 In the score there is a reprise of I.1e:33–34 (Numi, pietà etc.)
II.2:5–8 In the score these lines («Vieni, o guerriero vindice / I lauri e i fior versiam!») follow the triumphal march, after Line 20 («Nel fortunato dì»).
II.2:45–48 The prisoners and slaves sing these lines, while Aida reprises lines 41–44 («Ma tu, o Re, / il fato colpir», together with Amonasro on line 44).
II.2:52 Si compisca dei Numi il voler! Or de' Numi si compia il voler!
This is how it is sung the first time, but during the ensemble it is as in the libretto.
II.2:60 ravviva l'amor
When repeated, the line is altered to: «ravviva [l']ardor»
II.2:63 E a tal sorte serbata son io? Ed io sola avvilita, reietta?
II.2:85 Gli altri sien sciolti. This half line is not set.
II.2:108 D'avverso Nume il folgore
When repeated, the line is altered to: «Qual inatteso folgore»
II.2:112 Dall'inatteso giubilo
When repeated, the line is altered to: «Dall'inatteso gaudio»
II.2:115 I sogni del mio cor
When repeated, the line is altered to: «Le gioje del mio cor»
IIIa:6 Madre d'eterno amor Madre d'immenso amor
IIIa:8 implora invoca
IIIa:21 The aria begins with line 24 («O patria mia, mai più ti rivedrò!», first sung immediately before this line.
IIIb:18 Un'ora di tal gaudio Un'ora di tal gioia
IIIb:57 Va indegna! non sei mia prole Non sei mia figlia
IIIc:35 In estasi ignorate In estasi beate
IV.1b:62 Ora il cielo compirà Or dal ciel si compirà
IV.1b:74 Che veggo! Not set
IV.1b:82 [Amneris... mette un grido]
The cry is a reprise of line 69: «Oh! chi lo salva? Mi sento morir! ohimè!»
IV.1b:83–91 Radamès - Radamès:
At each accusation the name is repeated thrice, not twice. The order «Discolpati!» is sung first by Ramfis, then echoed by the other priests. Following each denunciation «Traditor!» Amneris reprises phrases from lines 80–81: «Ah pietà... egli è innocente... lo salvate, Numi, pietà»
IV.2:28 Su noi già il ciel dischiudesi Già veggo il ciel dischiudersi
IV.2:31ff The songs of the priestesses reprise I.2:1–3:
Immenso Fthà, del mondo
Spirito animator,
Noi t'invochiamo!

Notes © Richard S. Bogart 2009

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21 Mar 2012