The plot of the opera takes place in Russia in the 1820s, on the Larin country estate and in St. Petersburg.
Scene 1: The mother and the nurse are making jam outside the Larin country house, while Tatyana and Olga are singing a song about yearning for happiness. Harvesters arrive and greet their mistress. The Larins' neighbour, Lensky, Olga's fiancé arrives and introduces his friend Onegin to the ladies. Lensky indulges in a talk of love with Olga, while Onegin entertains the silent Tatyana.
Scene 2: Tatyana interrogates her nurse about love. Left alone she is overwhelmed with the emotions she feels towards Onegin, seeing him as the hero of her dreams and romantic readings. She writes a letter confessing her feelings, and asks her nurse to send it to Onegin.
Scene 3: The girls pick raspberry in the garden of the Larin house. Tatyana anxiously looks forward to Onegin's arrival, but the man politely rejects her.
Scene 1: The nobles of the neighbourhood gather for a joyful birthday ball in the Larin house. Triquet, a Frenchman sings some songs in honour of Tatyana. The bored Onegin wants to annoy Lensky, and keeps dancing with Olga. Lensky challenges him to a duel.
Scene 2: At dawn next day Lensky, with a heavy heart, is preparing for death while waiting for his friend. Onegin kills Lensky at the duel.
Scene 1: Some years later, Onegin sees Tatyana again as a celebrated society lady in a grand ball in St. Petersburg. She had married Prince Gremin, and the elderly prince talks to Onegin about her emotionally. Onegin realizes that he is in love with Tatyana.
Scene 2: Onegin bombards Tatyana with love letters, and he passionately confesses his sentiments in her room. Tatyana still loves him, but chooses to remain faithful to Gremin, and rejects Onegin