The Fate of Radamès and Aida: A One Act Play Exploring the Ending of Giuseppe Verdi’s Opera, Aida

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This is a continuation of Verdi’s opera Aida. It can be read without foreknowledge of the original, although I suggest following the link and getting the backstory for the full effect.

Cast:

Radamès: A young, Egyptian warrior, sentenced to death for his adulterous love for the Ethiopian captive Aida.
Aida: Lover of Radamès and rival of Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter, for Radamès’ devotion.
Two Egyptian Soldiers
Priest

Scene: A dark, tomblike space beneath the temple, perfectly dark except for the circle of light blazing through the circular entrance.

Two Egyptian soldiers appear at the entrance, holding Radamès, who’s hands are bound behind his back, between them. Their features cannot be discerned due to the brilliant light behind them. They are mere silhouettes. The priest suddenly appears, also against the sun.

Priest (to Radamès): You, Radamès, once the hope of the Egyptian empire and joy to the Pharaoh, are hereby charged with a licentious betrayal of your nation. For your rebellious disregard for the Pharaoh’s generous desire to marry you to his daughter, Amneris, you are sentenced to end your days in this dark and foul-smelling tomb.

Radamès (struggling): No! Soldiers, I command you to release me!

Priest: Your fate is sealed. For your treason, you will die.

Radamès: Look, (he glances briefly at the soldiers on either side, then addresses the priest) I’ll do whatever you want. I’ve got some gold I horded from a palace of the Ethiopians. I took more than my share, being the bravest of all the warriors in battle. I’ll tell you where it’s buried, if you just let me go.

Priest: No. Your fate is sealed. For your treason, you will die.

Radamès: Okay, wait a second. I’ll marry Amneris, I swear! I see the folly of my ways. I’ve allowed an Ethiopian whore to interfere with my duty to the Pharaoh. A woman isn’t worth a death like this! Tell the Pharaoh that I have repented and will comply with his every desire—

Priest (interrupting): It is too late, Radamès. Your fate is sealed. For your treason, you will die. (to the soldiers) Seal him in.

Radamès: No!

The soldiers shove Radamès from behind into the tomb. Radamès, screaming, struggles to get up as the soldiers quickly roll the rock over the entrance. Radamès, still bound, struggles to his feet and runs to the stone just as it reaches its destination. The tomb falls into utter darkness. He can be heard kicking the stone violently, wailing. After a few moments of useless struggle, he collapses against the wall. The audience can see nothing but hears him weeping.

Radamès: Oh miserable, miserable life!

Aida: Radamès?

Radamès: (stops weeping) I know that voice! Hello? Does an angel share my tomb?

Aida: Radamès? Where are you?

Radamès: Oh my god! Aida! I’m over here! Follow my voice! Oh, sweet misery, horrible death graced by a whisper of pleasure! My Aida! Wherefore art thou amidst such gloom?

Aida (brushing noisily against the stones as she blindly searches for Radamès): My Radamès… I… I found my way beneath the temple… to be… ouch… with you… forever… my dearest… sweet… damn… love.

Radamès: Oh, such horror! Such exquisitely wonderful doom! But you are too beautiful for this place, my love.

Aida: Yes, Radamès… but… I couldn’t live… without… found you!

Radamès: Oh Aida! Untie these ropes that bind me, so I can embrace you!

Aida (struggling with the ropes): I’m trying, dear Radamès! I’m trying!

The ropes are heard falling to the floor. Immediately, silence falls, interrupted by the rustle of fabric and the intermittent smack of kisses. Fabric rustles and Aida begins to moan lightly. More fabric rustles and something falls to the floor. Radamès groans as a new rustling takes on a rhythmic character. Radamès mumbles something and then Aida and Radamès gasp in unison. A few moments of silence intervene before a sharp sound of flesh against flesh begins to echo against the cavern, first slowly, then faster. Aida’s and Radamès moans mingle with the steady slapping of skin. Finally, after reaching a furious pitch, Aida screams ecstatically and Radamès bellows in the dark a few seconds after. The rhythmic slapping quickly slows until Radamès collapses onto the stone next to Aida.

Radamès (with a deep sigh): Wow. That was amazing.

Aida: It was, my love.

Radamès: It almost made me forget our situation here.

(silence)

Radamès: Which is definitely a compliment.

(silence)

Radamès: I figure we have about four days to live, if we can’t find water.

(silence)

Radamès: But, if we can find water, which is somewhat likely given that we are underground and there is bound to be some level of seepage, we could possibly make it somewhere near a month.

(After a long stretch of silence, the rustle of fabric begins as Aida dresses)

Radamès: What are you doing, Aida? There’s really no point wearing clothes when it’s so—

Aida: Radamès?

Radamès: Yes, love?

Aida: Why did you tell the priest you’d marry Amneris?

Radamès (shuffling to find Aida): Oh, honey, you aren’t sore about that, are you? Come here. I just said that to get out of the situation, because I thought you were still—

Aida: I wasn’t going to bring it up. But Radamès, you realize that if they would’ve listened to you, I would’ve been trapped in here to die by myself! You realize that, don’t you?

Radamès: Sweet Aida, that didn’t happen, though. There’s no point getting upset about things that didn’t happen.

Aida: It’s a good thing you were silent during your trial. I don’t know if I would’ve bothered to join you if I’d have known how you really felt.

Radamès: Aida! How could you say that?

Aida: How could I say that? I think your exact words describing me to the priest were “Ethiopian whore,” and you want to criticize what I just said?

Radamès: Circumstances, Aida! You’re taking everything out of context!

Aida: Context my ass. An appropriate context for calling the woman who literally throws herself to her death just to be with you a whore doesn’t exist, Radamès.

Radamès: Look Aida, I didn’t ask you to join me. That was your own poor decision and you can’t shift the blame on me just because you happened to overhear me lying to save my skin!

(after a moment of silence, Aida begins weeping softly)

Radamès: Aida, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.

(Aida weeping)

Radamès: Really, Aida. Cut it out. I said I’m sorry.

(Aida weeping)

Radamès: This is going to be a long couple of weeks if you won’t stop. I think we should probably make at least a minimal attempt to get along and be happy together.

(Aida weeping)

Radamès: If we can find some water, we’ll be able to push it back to about a month, I bet.

(Aida weeping)

Radamès: But even if we survive that long, we’ll get hungry. Really fucking hungry.

(Aida stops weeping)

Radamès: Food’s not going to be easy to find down here, unless there are rats. And god knows how we’ll be able to start a fire. With food and water, we could live as long as half a year.

Finis

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