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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: Aida

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Aida is an opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. Set in ancient Egypt, it is the story of Radames, a military commander, and his secret love for enslaved Ethiopian princess Aida. Their love is complicated by the fact that Egypt and Ethiopia are at war, and that Radames is engaged to Amneris, the daughter of the Pharaoh.

A scene from Verdi's "Aida". Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on “Aida”


Radames is the young commander of the Egyptian army. He is engaged to Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter, but his true love is Aida, a captured Ethiopian princess.


Amneris is the Pharaoh's daughter and the fiance of Radames. She is in love with Radames, but that love is unrequited. At the trial of Radames she begs Ramfis, the high priest, to spare his life, but ultimately, he is sentenced to die. At the end of the opera, she stands by the vault weeping as Radames is sealed into his tomb.


Amonasro is the King of Ethiopia and the father of Aida. He is captured in battle, but Radames spares his life as he is the father of Aida. Later, Amonasro hides behind a rock while Aida tricks Radames into revealing crucial military information. For this betrayal, Radames is arrested for treason and sentenced to die.


For his treason, Radames is sentenced to be buried alive in the vault of the Temple of Vulcan. After he is sealed in the tomb, Radames discovers that Aida has snuck into the tomb in order to die with her love. The opera ends with the lovers singing the aria “O terra, addio” as they die in each other’s arms.


Two arias sung by Aida are especially frequent in quizbowl questions. She sings "Ritorna vincitor”, as Radames leaves for battle, hoping for his safe return. Later, she sings, "O patria mia" when her father asks her to trick Radames into revealing military secrets.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* This page, from Radio France, is an interesting look at the history of Aida.

* National Geographic wrote an article about Giuseppe Verdi and the role he played in the Italian Unification movement. Read it here.

* Listen to an NPR story on Aida below:

* A highlight of many productions of Aida is the Triumphal March, which often features live elephants. Below, watch the scene from a 2012 production at The MET.


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