"Esmeralda" is a ballet written in accordance with the canons of the romantic theatre of the mid-nineteenth century. In early 1840-ies Pugni was ordered to create music for the ballet by the famous novel by Victor Hugo "Notre-Dame de Paris". The libretto was written by one of the most famous choreographers of the time, Jules Joseph Perrot. In the libretto and the staging of "Esmeralda" Perrot saved the storyline of the original, however, the social theme, so vividly expressed by Hugo, in the ballet was turned into a personal drama. Premiere of "Esmeralda" was held on 9 March 1844 at the Royal theatre in London.
Four years later the ballet was staged at the Mariinsky theatre in St.Petersburg, two more years later in Moscow, and in 1856 in Paris. In 1886, Marius Petipa implemented a new staging of the ballet in four acts with the addition of Riccardo Eugenio Drigo's music. In 1935 year the following version of the ballet in three acts, nine scenes was staged in the same theatre by Agrippina Vaganova, who involved composer Reinhold Glier into the work on "Esmeralda". Later in this version the ballet was performed in many other stages. Throughout the twentieth century, «Esmeralda» was performed on many stages of Europe in productions of different choreographers.