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Elton John Brings Aida to Broadway

Posted in MusicWorld on February 29, 2000 by

What does a rock star do after he's sold over 110 million records, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, composed and performed the best-selling single in history and won the prestigious Grammy Legend Award for lifetime achievement?

If you're the acclaimed singer/songwriter Sir Elton John, you gamely team with the renowned librettist Tim Rice to create one of the most highly anticipated Broadway musicals. Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida marks the second time the John and Rice have collaborated. The duo first teamed to compose the soundtrack for the Disney animated blockbuster, The Lion King. The resulting album was the best-selling recording of 1994, yielding the hit single "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and capturing Sir Elton his first Oscar. In 1997, the film was adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

Slated to open in spring 2000, Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida is a classic love triangle of loyalty and betrayal. An Egyptian captain named Radames finds himself enamored of a captured African princess named Aida. To spare her from a life of hard labor, Radames gives Aida as a handmaiden to his future bride, the Egyptian princess Amneris. Though Aida's true identity as an African princess remains a secret, she forms a deep friendship with Amneris. At the same time, Radames falls in love with the African servant. Aida finds herself torn between her duty to her countrymen, her impossible love for Radames, and her growing friendship with Amneris. Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida is the complex saga of three people forced to make choices that will change their lives and alter the course of history.

"What makes Aida so interesting to me is that the story is so great, so pertinent," Sir Elton says. "It's a beautiful, complex love story, where bigotry and hatred are swept out the window, and love, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding triumph. In this day and age, I'm a great believer in the human spirit triumphing over evil in any way."

John's enduring faith in the human spirit is a testament to his own passion. Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, England, John teamed with lyricist Bernie Taupin and began releasing a spate of well-regarded recordings in the early '70s. John albums like Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy are now considered pop classics. The John/Taupin hit streak continued unabated in the '80s with hit singles like "Blues Eyes," "I'm Still Standing" and "Sad Songs (Say So Much)."

As the '90s dawned, John's career gained locomotive momentum. His 1990 single, "The One," was a global Top 10 hit. In 1992, he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a charity that has since disbursed millions of US dollars, UK pounds and Australian dollars to charities in their respective lands. The Foundation has also contributed proceeds to fight AIDS in Africa.

John was poised to celebrate his 50th birthday when his good friend Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a controversial 1997 auto accident. In her honor, Taupin set new lyrics to John's 1973 classic melody, "Candle in the Wind." John performed the elegiac tune at Diana's Westminster Abbey funeral. Released as a single in the weeks following the funeral, "Candle in the Wind 1997" became the top single of all time.

John lost another good friend earlier when fashion designer Gianni Versace was slain outside his Florida home. But curiously, these tragedies were been offset by a number of bittersweet triumphs. In honor of his musical and charitable contributions, John has been made a British Knight, an Officer of Arts and Letters in France, an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Possessing almost superhuman creativity and stamina, John seems destined for even more achievements in the 21st Century.