In the garden of widow Larin’s house.
Tatjana and Ol’ga dance in company with young lady friends, whilst playing a game in which she who looks at herself in the mirror is supposed to glimpse the face of her beloved. For the merry Ol’ga, the superstition comes true. The mirror reflects the face of her fiancé, the poet Lenskij. The shy Tatjana, Ol’ga’s sister, sees in it the face of Onegin, who is visiting from St. Petersburg and has been brought by his friend Lenskij to the house of the widow Larin. Tatjana instantly falls in love with the young Onegin, the bored heir to rich possessions who boasts to the company of his superiority. Even Tatjana herself fails to breach his haughtiness.
Tatjana writes a letter to Onegin, in which she pours out her passionate love for a man almost unknown to her. After falling asleep exhausted over the letter, Tatjana has a dream in which she sees herself reflected in a mirror and in it the beloved face of Onegin appears to reveal that their love is mutual.
In widow Larin’s house.
Tatjana is celebrating her birthday and among her guests are Lenskij and Onegin. Tatjana waits impatiently for a sign to assure her that Onegin has read and answered her letter. But this proud man is irritated by the girl’s naive sincerity. He tears up the letter before her eyes and starts courting her sister Ol’ga – so brazenly that Lenskij, who is unaware of the situation, is roused to jealousy and challenges him to a duel. Not even Prince Gremin, an assiduous visitor to the Larins’ house, succeeds in forestalling the tragedy.
A deserted park.
Tatjana and Ol’ga implore Lenskij to give up his proposition. Onegin is even ready to accept a reconciliation and to admit his error. Nevertheless the romantic poet is still too shaken and has no intention of dropping his challenge. Thus the inevitable duel takes place, and Onegin kills Lenskij.
In the ballroom of Gremin House.
Ten years have passed since the events related here. Tatjana is now the wife of Prince Gremin. During a ball at their house Onegin suddenly appears, dejected and disillusioned by his existence. When he unexpectedly catches sight of Tatjana, he feels the enormity of his guilt in having so cruelly disdained the one great and honest love of his life. Now the roles are reversed, and it is Tatjana who turns her back without hesitation upon her former love.
Onegin leaves a letter, but Tatjana cannot bring herself to face their meeting again. Not with standing, her request to her unknowing husband not to leave her by herself this evening goes unheeded. Onegin enters and at last admits his love. Struggling against the feelings still alive in her heart, Tatjana realizes that Onegin’s confession has come by now too late. In front of him she tears up his letter.