|Premiere:||Cairo, December 24, 1871|
Verdi's grandest and most classically perfect opera unfolds in the royal palace in ancient Egypt, where the beautiful Ethiopian princess Aïda is a captive slave of Egyptian Princess Amneris. When Ethiopian forces attack in an attempt to rescue Aïda, Radames, captain of the Egyptian guard and Aïda's sworn beloved, leads a triumphant defense, capturing King Amonasro, Aïda's father. As a reward for his victory, the Egyptian king bestows on Radames the hand of his daughter, Princess Amneris, who is infatuated with the captain and jealous of Aïda. Torn between patriotism and passion, a despairing Aïda obeys her father's urgings to betray Radames, but Amneris discovers the plot and vengefully orders Radames to renounce Aïda or be buried alive. Silent and unrepentant, Radames is led to the dungeon, where he reunites tragically with Aïda, who has stolen away to join him in death.