The Story of Esmeralda

Opera in four acts by Arthur Goring Thomas

The first act takes place in he Court of Miracles in Paris, where the beggars are assembled and discuss the edict condemning the poet Gringoire to death unless some girl will accept him as her husband. Only Esmeralda, a gypsy, is willing to rescue Gringoire at such a sacrifice. When she has saved the poet, however, guards seize her, at the instigation of Archdeacon Frollo, who is madly in love with her. Esmeralda escapes.

The second act takes place in the home of Fleur de Lys, a room opening into a garden. Seeing a girl dancing in the court, the ladies demand that she be brought before then, and when she enters they are astonished at her beauty. Fleur de Lys recognizes in Esmeralda the dancing girl who has presumed to become her rival in the affections of Captain Phoebus, and finds her in possession of a scarf which she had herself embroidered and presented to the gallant captain. She then denounces Phoebus for his infidelity, and threatens Esmeralda, who throws herself on the protection of Phoebus and compels the acknowledgement of their love.

In the third act Esmeralda’s garret is shown. Gringoire finds that though Esmeralda has saved his life, she intends to be his wife in name only, so he philosophically goes to bed, leaving her tete-a-tete with Captain Phoebus. While the lovers are thus occupied, Frollo and Quasimodo enter through a window. Frollo pledges himself not to injure the girl, and thereupon Quasimodo retires, as Frollo hides behind a curtain. Phoebus and Esmeralda sing an impassioned duet, which is abruptly ended by Frollo. The unfortunate priest is overcome by insane jealousy, and stabs Phoebus, then escapes through the window. The guards arrive, and Esmeralda is arrested for attempting the murder of Phoebus.

In the fourth act Esmeralda, who has been condemned to death, is visited by Frollo. He assures her of his great love, and promises to save her life if she will return his affection. At this juncture Gringoire arrives, followed by Captain Phoebus. Enraged at the sight of Phoebus, Frollo again tries to kill him, but Quasimodo throws himself between them, and receives the fatal blow intended for the captain. Frollo is imprisoned as a murderer, and Phoebus and Esmeralda are united.