The Larina Family Home
At her country estate, Madame Larina and nurse Filipevna can hear Larina’s two daughters, Tatyana and Olga, sing a song about love. Larina begins to reminisce about her own marriage to a man she did not love; “The good Lord sends us habit as a substitute for happiness,” she concludes. The workers on the estate sing and dance to celebrate the harvest. Tatyana is lost in the romantic literature she loves, while her younger, more carefree sister Olga wants to join the celebration. Larina warns Tatyana that real life is different from her stories. Filipevna announces that two young men have arrived: Olga’s fiancé Lensky, a poet, and his new friend Eugene Onegin. Tatyana is immediately attracted to Onegin, who tells her he has inherited a nearby estate and how dull he finds life in the country. Filipevna recognizes the effect Onegin has on Tatyana.
Tatyana is dressed for bed, but she is restless and unable to sleep. She asks Filipevna to tell her stories about her youth and marriage. Tatyana confesses that she has fallen for Onegin. Once alone, she pours her heart out into a letter to Onegin. Filipevna enters to wake Tatyana. Tatyana convinces Filipevna to have her grandson deliver the letter to Onegin.
Another Part of the Estate
Servant girls sing songs while they pick fruit. Meanwhile, Tatyana anxiously awaits Onegin’s response to her letter. Onegin enters and explains that he is not a man who falls in love easily. He tells her that he is unworthy of her love and can only offer her friendship. He warns Tatyana to stay in control of her emotions. The servant girls are heard singing again. Devastated, Tatyana is unable to respond to his rejection.
The Ballroom of the Larina Estate
Against his better judgment, Onegin accompanies Lensky to a party celebrating Tatyana’s name day. Onegin dances with Tatyana but becomes increasingly irritated by the gossipy old neighbors, whom he overhears maliciously discussing him and Tatyana. An elderly French fop, Monsieur Triquet, sings a song he has composed honoring Tatyana. Onegin decides to punish Lensky for dragging him to this miserable party by flirting with Olga. Enraged, Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel. Onegin reluctantly accepts the challenge.
A barren field.
Lensky and his second, Zaretsky, wait for Onegin. Lensky reflects on his life, his poetry, his fear of death, and his love for Olga. Onegin arrives with his servant, Guillot. Both Onegin and Lensky are reluctant to go forward with the duel, but neither has the courage to stop it. Zaretsky gives the signal. Onegin shoots and kills Lensky.
Prince Gremin’s Palace in St. PetersburgFive years later, Onegin, who fled Russia after the duel, returns to the imperial capital and attends a ball. He reflects on the emptiness of his life and his remorse for killing Lensky. Prince Gremin, Onegin’s wealthy older relative, enters and introduces his wife. Onegin is astonished to see that the Prince has married Tatyana. Tatyana is also surprised to see Onegin, but tries to suppress her emotion. Dazzled by Tatyana’s beauty and nobility, Onegin realizes that he is now in love with her. He decides to write to her to arrange a meeting.
A Few Weeks LaterOnegin’s letter has disturbed Tatyana by stirring up the emotions she once felt for him. Onegin arrives; Tatyana asks why he is pursuing her now. Is it because she is no longer a simple girl from the country, but a lady of high and fashionable society? Onegin tells her his love is genuine and begs her to run away with him. Brought to tears by his plea, Tatyana admits that she still loves him, but explains that their union will never be. Onegin implores her. Tatyana is determined to remain faithful to her husband. Tatyana bids Onegin farewell forever. Alone, ashamed, and despairing, Onegin rails against his fate.