Music and Me
The Cost of Love Then and Now

This is one of my articles that begins with getting all my cards on the table. I have absolutely no musical ability. I can’t sing or play any instrument. I wish I could, but at 81 and counting, I won’t increase my musical skills on my journey down my yellow brick road of life.

So, how would you explain my intense interest in all sorts of music? My interest in music includes the stories behind various musical compositions. I have a section of my website called Music I Love and Why, which contains dozens and dozens of stories about various musical expressions. Those articles deal with why a piece of music written centuries ago can impact people in the present day. You will be able to see that influence in this essay.

This essay is about Giuseppe Verde’s opera Aida, which he wrote in 1870.

A poster for Aida

A poster for Aida

This is a brief storyline of Aida. The opera deals with ancient Egypt. Egypt and Ethiopia had been involved in a war for two centuries. The Egyptian goddess Isis picked Radames, an Egyptian general, to invade Ethiopia. Radames was successful and returned to Egypt. The Grand March of Aida is one of my favorite pieces of music, and it is about celebrating Radames’ victory when he returned.

Radames is delighted about his victory but wants to see his lover, Aida. Aida is an Ethiopian slave of the royal family. Aida is also the daughter of the king of Ethiopia, although no one knows about this. However, the Egyptian princess Amneris secretly loves the victorious Radames and becomes aware that Aida and Radames are in love.

The pharaoh tells Radames that, as a reward, he will be granted anything he wishes. Radames asks to bring the prisoners to him, including Aida’s father, the Ethiopian king. Radames pleads for the release of all the captives. However, the priests want the captives killed.

The pharaoh decides not to release the captives nor to kill them. They will remain captives, and Radames will be married to Amneris, his daughter. In that way, Radames will become the next pharaoh.

The day before Radames and Amneris are married, everything unravels. Amneris wants to discover Radames’ military plans against Ethiopia. Aida questions Radames’s love for her over his love for his country. After the conflict between Amneris, Radames, and Aida, Radames gives up and turns himself over to the priests.

The priest met out their punishment of Radames. They buried Radames alive in a tomb. In an O’Henry twist, Radames finds Aida in the tomb, where the two lovers die in each other’s arms.

Three lovers: Amneris alone outside the tomb and Radames and Aida inside the tomb.

Three lovers: Amneris alone outside the tomb and Radames and Aida inside the tomb.

While Aida ends with a tragic O’Henry twist, the opera is also a metaphor not for ancient Egypt but for present-day America and the rest of the world. Pick any area in the world, and you can see an equally tragic O’Henry twist in how locals view each other. This applies to race issues, religious beliefs, or xenophobia in general. That mindset creates the notion that my group is better than your group. It doesn’t matter which group is saying that belief. All groups believe that their group is better than the other group.

The group in power determines who can vote, what jobs they can have, and how society treats the minority group. Name a religious faith, and that faith determines who one should marry. Aida was ethnically different than the Egyptians. Aida can’t fall in love with a person from a superior ethnic group. Many people in Aida’s group saw them as superior to the Egyptians.

Look at racial issues in America today. Mixed-racial marriages are still shunned in the 21st century. Mixed ethnic marriages are another example. Many do not view well Muslim and Christian marriages. In fact, marriages within the same religions aren’t accepted. Catholic and Protestant or Sunni and Shia marriages still create problems.

Aida presents an O’Henry twist about which we need to address, or else we will continue claiming that my group is better than yours.