- “The Daughter of Isis has spoken!”
Amneris is a character from Disney Theatrical Productions adaptation of Aida. She is the Princess, later Pharaoh, of Egypt, daughter of the Pharaoh and fiancé of Radames. She serves as the tritagonist of the musical.
Role in the show
Amneris serves as the guide and narrator for the show. She first appears as a statue in an Egyptian exhibit in the Egyptian wing of a modern museum. She then proceeds to turn back time to when Egypt once ruled the Nile and was at war with Nubia.
When formally introduced, she is bathing with her handmaidens when Radames, her childhood friend and fiancé, presents her with a new handmaiden Aida. Aida proves to be skilled with fabric and weaving, and Amneris takes an instant liking to her. Asking her handmaidens help, she dresses herself for the grand banquet to celebrate Radames return, revealing her fashion minded philosophy.
However when alone with Aida that night, she states she places so much out front, letting her beauty act as a shield to just how frightened her father's declining health has made her, and her insecurities that she maybe able to handle the responsibilities of being queen of a grand empire. Aida shares her own philosophies on the subject and Amneris finds comfort in her words and a genuine friendship forms between the two.
As time goes on she becomes more involved in the politics of her county, something that very few ever considered her possible. When Zoser explains the underhanded tactics the Egyptian Armies have been taking in conquering less powerful countries Amneris is appalled and horrified. When Zoser explains that doing so provided her with the beautiful necklace she is wearing, she exclaims that she no longer sees the beauty in an object that was bought with the blood of the innocent.
While strolling the Palace gardens in the moonlight the night before her wedding, she overhears Aida and Radames proclaim their love for one another. She hears Aida beg Radames to marry Amneris to create a distraction for the Nubian king to escape. Shattered with the realization that the Man she loves does not love her, and never had, she still prepares for her wedding, knowing that her marriage is a sham.
When Aida's identity, and Radames role in her plan, is discovered, the two are arrested. Amneris begs Radames to apologize for his actions, yet he reveals to her he cannot, as it would be a betrayal to Aida. Fully now realizing her feelings for her fiancée were one sided, Radames corrects her revealing that he has loved her for as long as he has known her, reaching out as if to deliver one final kiss goodbye, before he is yanked away forcefully by the guards.
Coming across the guards hassling Aida, Amneris orders them to stop, and helps Aida to her feet, demanding she be treated with the respect befitting of royalty. Aida, genuinely apologizes to her, she always intended to reveal herself to Amneris on her own terms. Aida begs for Radames life, yet Amneris knows full well she is powerless to overturn her father's orders.
During their trial, Amneris acts on behalf of both Aida and Radames, strongly stating her case to her father and the court. Asserting her position as the soon to be Pharaoh of Egypt, Amneris demands that the lovers be allowed to die together by entombing them alive, an act of compassion for two people she has come to love.
With her story complete, Amneris returns the audience to the present. She informs them that Aida and Radames sacrifice was not in vain, as to honor her friends, after taking the throne she called off the war with Nubia, ushering in an era of peace.
- “I would never make you do anything you didn't want to... I am asking you, as my friend.”
- ―Amneris to Aida
When first officially introduced, Amneris comes off as a shallow, gaudy and fashion obsessed. However when alone, she reveals these as a façade, a mask to hide her fears and insecurities. Despite her role as princess of the most powerful country of her era, she is very sweet, and treats her handmaidens kindly, even considering Aida her closest friend.
She is much smarter than she appears, and very compassionate. She is horrified by the atrocities that her country has ravaged upon all other nations of the Nile. When learning of the betrayal of the man she loves with her dearest friend, no matter how hard it hurts her, and how coldly she treats the two during their trial, she demands that Aida be treated with respect, helping her to her feet, telling the guards that Aida is a Princess and orders she be shown the courtesy she rightfully deserves, despite being their enemy. Realizing that despite her wish for mercy, she knows the two must be put to death, by the laws of the Pharaoh. She seizes power from her dying father, who grants it to her after stating her case firmly, and allows Aida and Radames to be buried alive together out of compassion and love for the two.
Amneris is based on the character of the same name from the original opera of which "Aida", is built upon. The character was redeveloped alongside most of the rest of the show by Linda Woolverton. Whereas the original Amneris share many similarities with the Elton John and Tim Rice anagram, being the Princess and intended of Radames, she was much less likable and a borderline antagonist, having little interaction with Aida outside of her jealous tendencies in regards to Radames. With the new book the character is heavily expanded to the show's tritagonist, and made much more likable.