The scene is set in fifteenth century Bruges, when the city was at the height of its prosperity. Franz, son of the old bellmaker is in love with Nita, the Baron’s daughter, but her ambitious father wants her to marry a Count instead. To bribe her, the Baron offers to give her anything she wants. She chooses a peal of bells for her father’s belfry, insisting that they must ring louder and sweeter than any in Bruges. Scuppering the Baron’s plans to have the bells made in France, Franz provides him with some which his father had made years before and the Baron is forced to let him marry Nita.