A Comparison of Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Ghislanzoni’s Aida and Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida

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Date
2022-05-06
Authors
Hayley Gretz
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Abstract
A musical theatre fan knows many musicals have been based off books, but opera has also been a popular source of inspiration for musical composers. Aside from obvious genre differences, opera and musical theatre have different storytelling techniques. This comparative essay explores how Elton John and Tim Rice adapted Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Ghislanzoni’s 19th century opera Aida into a Broadway musical. The thesis is organized into four main sections: the history of both shows, a plot comparison, character analysis, and the staging of both productions. These sections seek to discover what both productions have in common and more importantly, what is different and why Elton John and Tim Rice made specific choices in modifying the story. This thesis found that the opera and the musical share many similarities, but main plot points and character traits were changed in the musical to appeal to modern audiences. In an application of these findings, the second half of the project is an original script for a musical based off another Verdi opera, La Traviata. In addition to watching the opera, I also read Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, upon which La Traviata is based. The time setting is unspecified, but the dialogue is completely modern. The opera is rather tragic, so I opted to make my adaption more of a comedy and make the characters more relatable. Just as Elton John and Tim Rice did, I kept to the same story of the opera, but made changes to reflect modern society.
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