Act I, Scene I
It is dusk at a Russian estate in the early 19th century. The mistress of the estate, Larina, her daughters Tatyana and Olga, and their nurse Filippyevna, sing of the mysteries of love, including Larina’s nostalgia over a lost amorous adventure prior to her mundane marriage. Larina is serenaded by a chorus of peasants, who have just completed the harvest.
Olga’s fiancée, Lensky, arrives from St. Petersburg accompanied by his friend, Onegin. Tatyana is immediately struck by the handsome young man, and the two stroll together outdoors, accompanied by Olga and Lensky.
Act I, Scene II
Tatyana sits in her bedroom at night, joined by Filippyevna. Tatyana asks the nurse to tell her about love, but she cannot respond. Later, Tatyana pens a love letter to Onegin, and asks Filippyevna to deliver it.
Act I, Scene III
In a garden on the estate, maidens sing as they pick berries. Tatyana enters, followed by Onegin. He has read her letter, he tells her, and loves her, too, but is not interested in marriage, which he thinks would bore him. He tells her, rather, that he loves her with a brother’s love.
Act II, Scene I
Several months later, the estate is hosting a ball. Onegin dances with Tatyana and then with Olga. Meanwhile, much to the delight of the other guests, a French visitor, Triquet, has asked Tatyana to dance. Lensky and Onegin argue over Onegin’s attention to Olga. Their dispute escalates, and the jealous Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel.
Act II, Scene II
Lensky and Onegin, with their seconds, meet in a deserted mill for the duel. While both express private regrets at what has become of a once-ardent friendship, they proceed. Onegin fires first, and Lensky falls dead.
Act III, Scene I
Several years have passed. Onegin is a guest at a ball in the house of a St. Petersburg dignitary. Also present are Tatyana and her husband of two years, Prince Gremin. Onegin is struck by Tatyana’s beauty. Tatyana and Onegin are “introduced” to each other, and both feign casual acquaintance.
Act III, Scene II
Tatyana is at home, reading a love letter she has received from Onegin. He enters the room and drops to his knees, begging forgiveness for his former callousness. She admits to still loving him, but says she cannot leave her husband. He continues to beg, desperately, but she does not submit, leaving him to his despair.