The action takes place in 40-50 years. XVIII century. Together with his heroine, the outstanding singer Consuelo, the reader from sunny Venice gets into the gloomy Bohemian forest, goes along the roads of the Czech Republic, Austria and Prussia.
Consuelo, the daughter of a gypsy who did not know her father, is naturally endowed with amazing musical abilities and has a wonderful voice. Hardworking and modest, she becomes the beloved pupil of the famous musician-teacher Porpora, who, having guessed her true talent, gives her free lessons. The girl’s mother died, and she lives alone; she is guarded by an orphanage boy, Andzoletto, who also has a wonderful voice, but has neither the assiduity nor the efforts of Consuelo. Children love each other with pure, innocent love.
Having entered the time of youth, Andzoletto becomes a real handsome man, Consuelo, who was previously considered a jerk, also unusually prettier. Andzoletto gets used to easy victories – both over women and in the musical field. His patron, Count Dzoustinyani, invites him to his theater. Singing Andzoletto was favorably received in the salons of Venice.
Almost simultaneously with Andzoletto, Consuelo debuts, after the performance of which everyone understands that she has no equal either in skill or in voice. Consuelo is alien to vanity, in the soul of Andzoletto, envy awakens.
The friendly feelings, fed by Andzoletto to a childhood friend, grow into passion. Consuelo agrees
Corilla falls more and more in love with Andzoletto, arranges scenes of jealousy for him. Andzoletto is increasingly envious of Consuelo’s success, accompanying her, wherever she performs – in the temple or on the stage of a comic opera. Count Dzustinyani Consuelo pleads to give him his love. Confronted with the behind-the-scenes theater life so alien to her, Consuelo is horrified and flees Venice. On the recommendation of Porpora, she travels to the ancient castle of the Isfalins, located on the border of the Czech Republic and Germany, in order to temporarily become a companion and music teacher of the young Baroness Amalia, the bride of the young Count Albert. Porpora himself is going to leave for Vienna in some time, where his beloved student will come to him.
The Castle of the Isfalins belongs to the family of Rudolstadt, of Czech origin, but for the sake of saving the heirs of the “Germanized” surname during the Thirty Years’ War. Since then, the Rudolstadts live in their estate, representing an example of faithful Catholics and faithful servants of Maria Theresa. The last representative of this noble and valiant race, the young Albert, the only son of Count Christian, “reached the age of thirty, without knowing and not seeking any honor and glory other than what he had by birth and state.” To many, Albert’s behavior seems strange: he surrounds himself with people from the common people, tries to give as much money as possible to the poor, he often experiences “sleepless sleep”, he confuses years and decades, takes himself for his distant ancestor Poděbrada.
Count Christian and his sister, the son of Wenceslas, want to marry Albert to his cousin Amalia, with whom he was friendly in his childhood. Arriving with his father in the castle, Amalia is bored, and Albert does not seem to notice her presence at all. Amalia joyfully meets her companion, although she is somewhat disappointed by her dull look.
Consuelo makes a great impression on Albert. Getting up from the table, this young aristocrat, dressed in all black, with casually hanging hair and a black beard on his tanned face, gives Consuelo a hand, which makes her turn dizzy, and Amalia, though she does not like the count, feels a twinge of jealousy.
Once Count Albert disappears. Usually it does not happen for several days, and when he returns, he behaves as if he was away for only a few hours. However, this time his absence becomes protracted, the family is in constant alarm. Searches in the vicinity of the castle lead nowhere.
In the courtyard in front of Albert’s windows Consuelo notices a well with strange murky water. Watching him, she sees Zdenko letting out water and coming down. Following him, the girl discovers an underground passage leading to the caves under the mysterious rock Shrekenstein.
Consuelo descends into the well, and, wandering through the underground corridors, reveals the refuge of Albert. The young earl dreams – he then calls the girl the abused sister of Zizka, or his mother Vanda…
With his sonorous, expressive voice, Consuelo manages to get him out of oblivion, and together they go upstairs. Consuelo asks Albert to promise her not to go without her to the caves.
From the shock experienced in the underground possessions of Albert, the girl falls ill, and the young earl, like an experienced nurse, nurses her. When her health is no longer in danger, he confesses to her in love and asks her to become his wife. Consuelo is confused: her own heart for her is still a mystery. The Earl of Christ joins the son’s request.
Unexpectedly, Andzoletto appears in the castle; he pretends to be his brother Consuelo. After the scandals in Venice, he manages to receive letters of recommendation to Prague, Vienna and Dresden. Learning that Consuelo lives in the castle Rudolstadt, he decides to see her and beat her off from the young count, who is rumored to have made her his mistress. Andzoletto threatens to spoil Consuelo’s reputation, if that night does not open the door to his bedroom for him.
The girl in despair: she realizes that she can no longer love Andzoletto, but she still does not feel love for Albert. Then Consuelo writes to Count Christian that he is going to Vienna, to his teacher and his adoptive father, Porpora, in order to tell him about the Count’s proposal and ask him for advice. Under cover of night, Consuelo fled the castle.
In the surrounding forest she meets the young Joseph Haydn; he goes to the Castle of the Giant to ask for the protection of the famous Porporina, so that she would marry him in front of the maestro. Haydn feels the vocation of the composer; his music teacher taught him everything he knew, and now he wants to learn from Porpora himself. Consuelo admits that she is Porporina, and invites the young man to travel together. For greater security, she changes into a male suit.
On the way, they fall into the hands of the recruiters of Prussian King Friedrich, and only the courage of Baron Friedrich von Trenck saves them from the soldier. Stopping for the night in the house of a good canon, adoring music, Consuelo is present during the birth of Corilla. The newborn Andzolina, whose father is Andzoletto, the prima donna throws the canon, and she rushes to Vienna in the hope of getting an engagement in the opera of Maria Theresa.
Having reached the Austrian capital, Consuelo finds the home of Porpora. Knowing the capricious nature of the maestro, she advises Haydn to act as a lackey to him, so that he becomes accustomed to him and himself began to teach him music. Young Joseph follows her advice.
Consuelo performs in the Vienna salons, she is accompanied by success. Porpora is proud of her student. However, gradually around the city, rumors are circulating that Consuelo is Haydn’s lover, for they live under the same roof. Her Empress Maria Theresa, who considers herself an advocate of morality and a family hearth, asks about her relations with Haydn during the audience. The girl answers modestly, but with dignity, thus causing irritation to the crowned person: Maria-Theresa loves to be humbly asked and agreed with her. Consuelo, after hearing how the empress extols the morality of Corilla, finally loses respect for the lady of Austria. As a result, the engagement is not given to her, but to Corilla,
Porpora is disappointed by the failure of Consuelo. Learning about the conspiracy Haydn and Consuelo, as a result of which he began to give lessons to the beginning composer, he becomes enraged. But the young man has already achieved his goal: he learned from the maestro everything he wanted.
Consuelo begins to torment the question: why does not the Izlilov Castle answer her letters? Moreover, from her last letter it followed that she loves Albert and is increasingly inclined to marry him. True, this letter fell into the hands of Porpora, but he claims that he sent it.
Consuelo increasingly mentally turns to Albert. However, when Porpora tells her about the invitation to perform in Berlin, she gladly agrees, deciding that returning to the stage will be the decisive test of her love. Besides, sometimes she flashes the idea that, perhaps, Count Christian was able to persuade his son to abandon the unequal marriage with the singer.
Porpora and Consuelo embark on a journey. Arriving in Prague, they see the bridge of Baron Friedrich von Rudolstadt, the brother of Count Christian. He begs Consuelo to go with him to the castle: Earl Albert dies, and before his death wants to combine with her marriage and leave her his fortune. The family begs Consuelo to fulfill Albert’s last wish. Porpora is terribly unhappy, he wants his student to throw this count out of my head. But Consuelo is adamant: she goes to the castle.
Seeing Albert, Consuelo rushes to him: she feels that she loves. But it’s too late: Albert has only a few minutes to live. The Earl of Christians states that Porpora wrote to him that he would never give consent to Consuelo’s marriage with Albert, and “his ward herself refuses it.” “Alas, this also dealt a death blow to the young Count,” he adds.
Albert and Consuelo forgive the old maestro. The priest performs a rite. “Saved!” – Albert exclaims and dies. But, standing beside his coffin, Consuelo does not feel the breath of death. “There is no death, Albert, my heart feels this, for now I love you more than ever,” she whispers. The desperate relatives want to leave the girl in the castle, give her the inheritance of Albert, but she refuses everything and leaves with Porpora.
In the last lines the author reports that the most patient can read the following novel about the further wanderings of Consuelo and what happened to Count Albert after his death.