EUGENE ONEGIN ACT 1
Scene 1: The garden of the Larin country estate
Madame Larina and the nurse Filippyevna are sitting outside in a garden. They can hear Madame Larina’s two daughters, Tatyana and her younger sister Olga, singing a love song. Madame Larina begins to reminisce about her own courtship and marriage. A group of peasants enter and celebrate the harvest with songs and dances while Tatyana and Olga watch. Tatyana has been reading a romantic novel and is absorbed by the story; the carefree Olga, however, wishes to join in the celebration. Tatyana is cautioned by her mother that reality is very different from the novels she so loves.
Filippyevna announces that visitors have arrived: Olga’s fiancé Lensky, a young poet, and his friend Eugene Onegin, who is visiting from St Petersburg. The pair is shown inside and Lensky introduces Onegin to the family. Onegin is initially surprised that Lensky has chosen the extroverted Olga rather than her more subtle elder sister as his fiancée. Upon meeting Onegin, Tatyana develops an instantaneous and intense attraction to the visitor. Meanwhile, Lensky expresses his delight at seeing Olga and she responds flirtatiously. Onegin tells Tatyana of his boredom in the country and describes the death of his uncle and his subsequent inheritance of a nearby estate. Watching their interactions, Filippyevna recognizes that Onegin has had a profound effect on Tatyana.
Scene 2: Tatyana’s room
Tatyana is dressed for bed. Restless and unable to sleep, she asks Filippyevna to tell her about her youth and early marriage. Tatyana then confesses that she is in love. Left alone, Tatyana pours out her feelings in a letter to Onegin. She tells him that she loves him and firmly believes she will never have such ardent feelings for anyone else. She begs him to understand and help her. A shepherd’s pipe is heard in the distance, heralding the dawn as Tatyana finished writing the letter. Filippyevna enters the room to wake Tatyana, who persuades the nurse to send her grandson to deliver the letter to Onegin.
Scene 3: Another part of the estate
Servant girls are singing as they pick fruit. Tatyana waits anxiously for Onegin’s arrival. Onegin enters and gives Tatyana an answer to her letter. He gently explains that he is not a man who loves easily and that he is unsuited to marriage. Unworthy of her love, he can only offer her brotherly affection. He cautions Tatyana to be less emotionally open in future. The voices of the servant girls singing are heard again. Tatyana, crushed, is unable to reply.
EUGENE ONEGIN ACT 2
Scene 1: The ballroom of the Larin house
It is Tatyana’s name day and a ball is being given in her honor. Onegin is dancing with her. He grows irritated with a group of neighbours who gossip about the two of them, and with Lensky, who persuaded him to come to the ball in the first place. Out of annoyance, Onegin decides to avenge himself by dancing and flirting with Olga. Lensky is flabbergasted and becomes extremely jealous. He confronts Olga, who believes she has done nothing wrong and tells Lensky not to be ridiculous. Onegin asks Olga to dance with him again and she agrees as “punishment” for Lensky’s jealousy. The elderly French tutor, Monsieur Triquet, sings some couplets in honour of Tatyana. When the singing has ceased, the quarrel between Lensky and Onegin becomes more intense. Lensky renounces his friendship with Onegin in front of all the guests, and challenges him to a duel. Onegin, though filled with misgivings, is forced to accept the challenge. Tatyana collapses as the ball ends in confusion.
Scene 2: On the banks of a wooded stream, early morning
Lensky is waiting for Onegin with his second Zaretsky. Lensky reflects on his life, his fear of death, and his love for Olga. Onegin arrives with his manservant Guillot. Both Lensky and Onegin are reluctant to proceed with the duel, aware of the senselessness of their sudden enmity. It is too late, however: Neither man has the courage to stop the duel. Zaretsky gives them the signal and Onegin shoots Lensky dead.
EUGENE ONEGIN ACT 3
Scene 1: The house of a rich nobleman in St Petersburg
Years have passed, during which time Onegin has travelled extensively around Europe. Standing alone at a ball, he reflects on the emptiness of his life and his remorse over the death of Lensky. Prince Gremin enters with Tatyana, his wife, who is now a grand, aristocratic beauty. She is greeted by many of the guests with great deference. Onegin is taken aback when he sees Tatyana, and deeply impressed by her beauty and noble bearing. Tatyana, in turn, is overwhelmed with emotion when she recognizes him. Gremin tells Onegin about his great happiness and love for Tatyana, and re-introduces Onegin to his wife. Onegin, suddenly injected with new life, realizes that he is in love with Tatyana. He determines to write to her and arrange a meeting.
Scene 2: A room in Prince Gremin’s house
Tatyana has received Onegin’s letter, which has disturbed her by stirring up the passion she felt for him as a young girl. Onegin enters. Tatyana recalls her earlier feelings and asks why Onegin is pursuing her now. Is it because of her social position? Onegin denies any cynical motivation: his passion is genuine and overwhelming. Tatyana, moved to tears, reflects on how near they once were to happiness, but nevertheless asks him to leave. Onegin asks her to have pity. Tatyana admits she still loves Onegin, but asserts that their union can never be realized, as she is now married, and determined to remain faithful to her husband despite her true feelings. Onegin implores her to relent, but she bids him farewell forever, leaving him alone to despair.