dramS,A,2lyrT,dramT,charBar,B,charB; male chorus; female chorus;
Franz envies his elder brother Karl not only for his right of the first-born on the inheritance, but also for the emotional preference of their father and the love of the beautiful Amalia, the old Moor's orphaned niece. He intercepts a letter from Karl, in which he asks his father for forgiveness for his dissolute life as a student. Instead, Franz brings the father a faked letter mentioning that Karl has abused the name of his family and is wanted by the police. When Karl is informed by Franz afterwards that he has been expelled instead of having been pardoned by their father, he lets his boozing pals make him the captain of a robber gang, roaming the country marauding with them. Franz carries his cruel game to an extreme, informing the old Moor, who has long since repented his strict sentence against his beloved son, of Karl's death. Moor breaks down. Franz believes himself successful. When the old man recovers surprisingly, Franz puts him in prison. Karl’s gang has hidden in the Bohemian forests where they are encircled by a troop of soldiers. A father offers the robbers impunity in return for extraditing the captain, but the robbers stand by Karl. They manage to escape and Karl heads for his father's castle with his gang, where he finds his father on his deathbed. When Karl realizes how he has been cheated out of his fortune, he wants to judge his brother, who, however, has already taken his own life. Amalia forgives Karl and is ready to make peace. But his companions insist that he stands by his vow as they have stood by theirs. Karl pays the cruel tribute. He shoots Amalia who does not want to live without him, and hands himself in to the law.