The criminal, adulterous and incestuous Lucrezia Borgia seeks to escape from the evil that is her condition, to be recognised and loved by Gennaro, the child she had with her brother. During a ball in Venice, Gennaro, who has an aversion to the Borgias, courts a beautiful masked lady before discovering, to his horror, that it is Lucrezia. Stung by the affront of Gennaro's friends who insult her, and suspected of adultery by her husband, Lucrezia sets a heartbreaking act of revenge in motion.
Rarely has a dramatic work gone so far in its depiction of maternal love. Lucrezia is a moral monster but this monster is a loving mother. Victor Hugo wrote this play to reveal the pearl at the heart of every monster.