Tatyana’s Room, St. Petersburg
Tatyana pours over a letter she has reread many times since her youth.
Scene one | Autumn. The country estate of Madam Larina
Larina and the nurse Filippyevna are doing housework while Tatyana and Olga, Larina’s daughters, sing. Larina recalls the days of her courtship when she was loved by another man before marrying her husband.
Their friends arrive singing a folk tune. Tatyana daydreams, lost in a romance novel, while Olga asserts that
she would rather dance and be playful. Larina exhorts to Tatyana that life is not like romantic heroines in novels, but Tatyana disregards her.
Lensky, Olga’s fiancé, and his friend Onegin arrive. Onegin questions why Lensky would choose the superficial Olga over her more enigmatic sister. Quickly, Tatyana reveals herself attracted to Onegin, which Olga notices with concern.
The couples separate for walks. Onegin describes his boredom with the countryside to Tatyana. Lensky poetically declares his love for Olga.
Scene two | Tatyana’s bedroom
Tatyana pesters Filippyevna to tell her stories of her youth and marriage. Tatyana confesses that she has fallen in love and asks to be left alone. In her feverish passion, she writes a letter to Onegin
revealing the force of her love and declaring herself to him. Dawn breaks. Tatyana gives the letter to Filippyevna to deliver to Onegin.
Scene three | The garden
The workers are gathering fruit while Tatyana anxiously awaits Onegin. He arrives and acknowledges the letter. He tells her, kindly, but patronizingly, that while he admires her candor, he has no intention of marrying and would be bored by it. He is not interested in such love and can only offer her brotherly affection. Onegin suggests Tatyana not be so open in the future, lest other men take advantage of her innocence. Tatyana is distraught and cannot reply.
Scene one | Three months later
It is Tatyana’s name day. The community has been invited to the house to celebrate. Reluctantly, Onegin has agreed to accompany Lensky, but is annoyed that it is an enormous party and not an intimate celebration and he grows irritated by those gossiping around him. To frustrate them and Lenksy, he flirts with Olga. Olga reciprocates Onegin’s attention, which causes Lensky’s jealousy to grow. Lensky protests, but Olga cannot see what she has done wrong. Onegin laughingly persists by engaging with her again. The situation is temporarily defused with a song by Monsieur Triquet, Tatyana’s French tutor. With his temper and jealousy raging, Lensky, in front of all the guests, renounces his friendship with Onegin and impetuously challenges him. Onegin realizes he has pushed his friend too far, but Lensky’s accusations enrage him as well.
Scene two | The next morning
Lensky, with his second, Zaretsky, awaits his opponent. He broods on his daft decision to challenge his friend and mourns over his love for Olga and his potential death. Onegin arrives late. Both men raise their regrets, but the argument escalates into a tense game of Russian Roulette.
Scene one | Years later, St. Petersburg
A grand ball is taking place. Onegin, back from years of travel abroad is bored and remorseful. He reflects on the emptiness of his existence. Prince Gremin enters with his gorgeous young wife. In shock, Onegin recognizes the princess as Tatyana, now regal, dignified and beautiful. Gremin tells Onegin of his transformation by his love for Tatyana. He introduces him to her, unaware of their past. Tatyana and Onegin are formal with each other. Tatyana says she is tired and leaves the ball. Onegin realizes he has fallen in love with Tatyana.
Scene two | Gremin’s House
Tatyana has received a love letter from Onegin. Distressed with her reawakened passion, she awaits his arrival. Entering, he falls at her feet, proclaiming his deep love for her. Tatyana reminds him of his previous rejection of her, not comprehending why he has changed. Onegin denies all cynical motives. Tatyana is greatly moved, but she asks him to leave. Even in hearing Onegin’s overtures of love, Tatyana explains that she will not yield. Though she admits that she still loves him, her loyalty must lie with her duty to Gremin. Resolved, she departs. Onegin is left alone with his misery and despair.