|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 Ada is a captive slave of Egyptian Princess Amneris. When Ethiopian forces attack in an attempt to rescue Ada, Radames, captain of the Egyptian guard and Ada's sworn beloved, leads a triumphant defense, capturing King Amonasro, Ada'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 Ada. Torn between patriotism and passion, a despairing Ada obeys her father's urgings to betray Radames, but Amneris discovers the plot and vengefully orders Radames to renounce Ada or be buried alive. Silent and unrepentant, Radames is led to the dungeon, where he reunites tragically with Ada, who has stolen away to join him in death.