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In a hall of the pharaoh's palace in the city of Memphis, High Priest Ramfis is conversing with the young commander Radames. When Ramfis leaves, Radames ruminates on how he will go to the war, return triumphantly and unite with her Ethiopian sweetheart Aida. Pharaoh's daughter Amneris and her slave Aida appear. Amneris is in love with Radames but finds no reciprocation. Radames is in love with Aida. When the two exchange looks, Amneris cannot let that slip.
The King enters in the hall with his entourage when one of the messengers reports that the Ethiopian army in the lead of King Amonasro advanced towards Egypt ravaging all in the way. The King informs that he chose Radames as the chief commander. Everyone leaves fot the ceremony to be held at the Vulkan Temple. Aida is stuck between his father and his beloved not sure to whom she shall wish success so begins to pray.
The great ceremony at the Vulcan Temple. Sacred dance of the priestesses continues when the High Priest hands the sword to Radames.
News of Egyptian army's triumph is spread. Slaves entertain the princess at the lodge of Amneris. She holds breath to see Radames as soon as possible. Aida enters in and a tense duet commences between them. To confirm her doubts Princess tells Aida that Radames has died and from her reaction figures out that she is in love with him. Infuriated from jealously tells her that he is not in fact dead and makes it clear that no slave can ever be a rival to a princess.
On the grand road to the city Teb, the King, priests and people watch the slave parade. Pharaoh ensures Radames that all of his desires shall be fulfilled. Amneris places the victory crown on Radame's head. When the parade of slaves ends Amonasro is brought in chains. Aida runs to her father but Amonasro whispers her not to reveal his identity. He introduces himself as the son of one of the Ethiopian King's officers who dies at war and pleads for forgiveness. While Ramfis and other priests defend that they all should be killed, Radames reiterates his wish of pardoning the slaves. His wish is accepted on the condition that Aida and Amoasro stay there. The King announces that Radames because of his successes will marry his daughter Amneris.
Ramfis brings Amneris to the temple for her to pray. Aida summoned by Radames happens to be there as well. While she contemplates about her love and her motherland, her father Amonasro appears. He has found out his daughter's secret love through which they will be able to return to their homeland. His plan is tailored already. He asks his daughter to approach Radames and ask him the scheme of the Egyptian army. Aida first denying this request later yields in. Radames then comes in. Amonasro is now hidden. Aida suggests Radames that they should run and asks him the path that they could take to which Radames answers as 'Napata Passage'. This is what Amonasro wishes to know. The King of Ethiopia then appears and reveals himself. Only after then the young commander comes to realize his fault. Amneris and Ramfis show up. Though Amonasro wants to murder the Princess, Radames prevents him. While father and daughter flee, Radames hands his sword to Ramfis.
Right in front of the Temple of justice, Amneris agonizing with love and jealousy calls for Radames. Her beloved soon to be put on trial for treason. Princess informs Radames, that she would beg for his life if he gives up on Aida. Radames turns her down. Trial begins, Ramfis asks Radames whether he is guilty and the commander leaves him with no reply. Priests find him guilty and decree that he shall be executed by being buried alive.
Radames ponders over Aida in his grave where he has been buried alive when suddenly she appears in front of him. Young girl has sneaked in and hid secretly just to share death together with her beloved. While Aida and Radames farewell to the world, Amneris above prays for her lover's soul to rest in peace.