Eugene Onegin

Long Story Short

World-weary cad kills his best friend and wastes his one chance at true love.

Who's Who?

Eugene Onegin is young, intelligent, handsome, wealthy, well educated, and thoroughly bored by his hopelessly meaningless life.

Tatyana is a naïve girl, bookish and romantic, who becomes a refined lady of exquisite grace and sadness.

Lensky Onegin’s friend, is a young hothead and would-be Romantic poet.

Olga Tatyana’s sister and Lensky’s betrothed, is a featherbrained flirt.

Prince Gremin is a retired old army general who weds Tatyana.

Madame Larina is the mother of Tatyana and Olga.

Triquet Tatyana’s tutor, is an absurd but kind old Frenchman.

Zaretsky Mme. Larina’s another neighbor, is the local expert on the rules of dueling.

Where and When?

Rural and urban northern Russia, in the 1820s.

What's Going On?

The two daughters of Madame Larina take opposite approaches to the men in their lives. Olga, a vapid creature made for giggling and twirling, seems a bit mismatched with her fiancé, the ardent young poet Lensky. Lensky brings his rakish friend Onegin over to dine with the girls one night, and Olga’s quiet sister Tatyana falls head over heels in love with the debonair scoundrel. She stays up all night, pouring out her soul to Onegin in a passionate love letter. But Onegin, who has already broken many a young lady’s heart, rejects her love. He tells her that he is too easily bored even to consider marriage—to anyone—and advises her to be more careful in approaching rascally young men like himself. Tatyana is crushed.

Some time later, Lensky again asks Onegin to join him for a party at the Larina estate. Onegin, who finds that the local gentry bore him silly, only goes because Lensky has promised a small, intimate gathering. Instead it turns out to be a huge and dull affair, featuring dancing, a military band, and the silly poetry of sweet little Monsieur Triquet. Onegin takes out his frustration and anger at Lensky by flirting with Olga. Lensky grows increasingly jealous, until finally he challenges Onegin to a duel. Although neither really wants to go through with it, their honor is at stake, and early the next morning Onegin shoots Lensky—and kills him. Onegin leaves northern Russia to travel abroad, Olga marries someone else, and Tatyana moves to the city, where she eventually weds Prince Gremin, who loves her. When Onegin returns, a few years later, he meets Tatyana again. This time it is Onegin who falls in love with Tatyana and she who rejects him—not because she no longer loves him, but because she honors her marriage vow.

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