The gypsy girl, Esmeralda, consents to marry the poet Gringoire to save him from death at the hands of the Truands. She tells him, however, that she has married him out of pity, not love. She is desired by the evil priest, Frollo, who attempts to abduct her, but she is saved by the arrival of Phoebus and his troops. They capture Quasimodo, Frollo's henchman, but Emeralda pleads for his release. Despite his forthcoming marriage to Fleur de Lys, Esmeralda falls in love with Phoebus. Accompanied by Gringoire, she goes to dance at the celebrations where Phoebus, charmed by her, persuades her to dance with him.
Frollo spies upon a meeting between Phoebus and Esmeralda. Jealously he stabs Phoebus and then escapes, so that Esmeralda is arrested for the murder. Frollo promises to save her if she will marry him, but Phoebus, whose wound was not mortal, appears, and declares her innocence. Frollo tries to stab Esmeralda, but is prevented by Quasimodo, who kills him.
Choreographed by Jules Perrot .
Composed by Cesare Pugni .
Premiered 9 Mar 1844 at Her Majesty's Theatre, London.
After the novel, published by Victor Hugo in 1831. Gypsies rob mother Gudele's little daughter and replace her with an ugly and deformed little boy. Mother Gudele leaves him at the stairs of Notre Dame, where he grows up under the custody of the priest Pierre. The boy, Quasimodo, becomes the bell ringer of the cathedral, slavishly loyal to his master.
During the Festival of the Fools the ugliest man present is chosen as the Prince of Fools. This year the infamous distinction falls to Quasimodo with his bulging forehead, apelike arms and hunched back. From his throne he observes the mesmerizing dance of Esmeralda, the young Gypsy girl, who has spellbound all onlookers including the priest. He orders Quasimodo to abduct Esmeralda, but the hunchback is caught by Phoebus, the young and beautiful captain of the guard, and publicly whipped.