"Celeste Aida" Lyrics and English Text Translation

Radames' Aria from Verdi's opera, Aida

cast of Aida onstage at the Lincoln Center

Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Celeste Aida Context within the Opera

The Egyptian army officer Radames sings "Celeste Aida" in the first act of Verdi's famous opera, Aidaafter the Egyptian High Priest, Ramfis, warns him that warriors from Ethiopia have been spotted marching towards the Nile valley. Radames expresses in this aria his hopes to be appointed the head of the Egyptian army in order to accomplish two things: lead his country to victory against Ethiopia and to rescue his lover, Aida, an Ethiopian princess captured by Egyptian soldiers. (Her royal lineage remains unknown by Radames and her captors at this point.)

Celeste Aida Italian Lyrics

Se quel guerrier
Io fossi! se il mio sogno
S'avverasse!... Un esercito di prodi
Da me guidato... e la vittoria... e il plauso
Di Menfi tutta! E a te, mia dolce Aida,
Tornar di lauri cinto...
Dirti: per te ho pugnato, per to ho vinto!
Celeste Aida, forma divina.
Mistico serto di luce e fior,
Del mio pensiero tu sei regina,
Tu di mia vita sei lo splendor.
Il tuo bel cielo vorrei redarti,
Le dolci brezze del patrio suol;
Un regal serta sul crin posarti,
Ergerti un trono vicino al sol.

Celeste Aida English Translation

If only I were that warrior!
If only my dream might come true!
An army of brave men with me as their leader
And victory and the applause of all Memphis!
And to you, my sweet Aida,
To return crowned with laurels,
To tell you: for you, I have fought,
For you, I have conquered!
Heavenly Aida, divine form,
Mystical garland of light and flowers,
You are queen of my thoughts,
You are the splendor of my life.
I want to give you back your beautiful sky,
The sweet breezes of your native land,
To place a royal garland on your hair,
To raise you a throne next to the sun.

Historical Summary of Verdi's Aida

Giuseppe Verdi was paid a large sum of money by the Khedive of Egypt, Isma'il Pasha, to compose an opera to celebrate the opening of the Khedivial Opera House, an 850 seat venue that was constructed to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. Verdi accepted the offer and chose Antonio Ghislanzoni as his librettist. Verdi wrote the music, but due to the Siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the opera's premiere was delayed until the following year (December 24, 1871). Instead, a performance of Verdi's Rigoletto took place at the opera house's opening on November 1, 1869. 

Recommended Celeste Aida Recordings

Any Aida lover almost assuredly has their favorite recordings. Just listen to a handful of selections on YouTube and you'll quickly hear that no two performances are alike. Some tenors power through the entire aria as if they were singing to the auditorium's last row of seats, while others make it more intimate as if they were singing in your living room. In the videos below, the differences between performances are clear.

Celeste Aida Used in Television and Film

You can also hear Verdi's aria, "Celeste Aida," in the following television shows and movies:

  • One Chance (2013)
  • Deadly Little Secrets (2003)
  • Tudo Bem (1978)
  • Girl with a Suitcase (1961)
  • Resan till dej (1953)
  • That Midnight Kiss (1949)
  • Miliardi, che follia! (1942)
  • Thou Art My Joy (1936)
  • Stars Over Broadway (1935)