Commissioned to create a grand opera to inaugurate the new opera house in Cairo, Verdi responded by creating a historical fantasy of Egypt on a tragic theme. Yet for all its scenes of spectacle, such as the famous triumphal march, at the heart of Aida is a web of intimate personal relationships between people caught in the crossfire of international conflict. Egypt is at war with Ethiopia. Aida, daughter of the Ethiopian king, has been captured by the Egyptians. Secretly, she loves an Egyptian general, Radamès, and he returns her love. When Radamès is selected to lead a renewed assault against the enemy, Aida is forced to choose between betraying her country and betraying her heart. The leading characters in Aida are as conflicted as the war-torn world they inhabit, and for the doomed lovers, Radamès and Aida, Verdi reserved some of his finest arias – his ‘Celeste Aida’ and her ‘O patria mia’ for example. This new concert staging of Aida is conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong and directed by Annabel Arden, who last collaborated on an electrifying production of Turandot for Opera North in 2017.