Opera in two acts by Franz Schmidt Performed in German
We are in the final minutes before ESMERALDA's execution. She is supposed to have killed her husband.
All the events and figures from her past life flash before her eyes once more, above all the men who decided her fate.
Her husband GRINGOIRE whom she married to save his life: her gypsy tribe had threatened to kill him because he was not one of them.
The officer PHOEBUS who loves her and tries to persuade her to meet him in secret.
The ARCHDEACON and his charge, the hunchback QUASIMODO. Esmeralda awakes in the past.
Quasimodo is injured in a fight. Esmeralda helps him but is chased away by the Archdeacon. She is afraid of him, for there is something strange and unsettling about him. Gringoire, a former pupil of the Archdeacon, tells him the story of what brought him and Esmeralda together and of their marriage, in which contact is forbidden. It becomes increasingly clear that the Archdeacon's apparent disapproval of Esmeralda is in fact a reflection of his fear of falling victim to her charms.
"If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out."
The catastrophe takes its course.
At the secret rendezvous with Phoebus, Gringoire shoots his rival and commits suicide. Esmeralda is accused of the crimes and sentenced to death.
The Archdeacon, torn between love and hate, is with her. Quasimodo tries to save her by carrying her to the church so she is protected by the law of sanctuary. The Archdeacon forces him to give her up. Esmeralda is executed. Quasimodo kills the priest.
It is 12 noon.