A catastrophe has befallen the civilization of Earth. The Sun has hardly shone in many years. The new generation of survivors are trying to endure the harsh winter conditions. People hope that reviving ancient rituals or imitating them in the new situation should help them to restore their previous life.


Prologue

Scene One


Wood Spirit is the first to feel Spring coming. Spring brings along everything essential for life. Children run to her.
Spring gets ready to meet Frost and the Snow Maiden, their daughter. Frost has to move to the North, so the parents argue about who to leave the girl with. The Snow Maiden asks them to let her stay with people.

Scene Two

The Berendei folk, inhabitants of the nearest village, come onto a beautiful hill. They sing farewell to the effigy of Shrovetide, to chase away the long winter. Bakula and his wife notice the Snow Maiden; she would be happy to stay with them.
The Snow Maiden says good-bye to Frost, Spring and Wood Spirit.


Act I

Lel, a young poet from the village, composes a song for the Snow Maiden and tries to woo her. Kupava tells them about her sudden romance with Mizgir and about his proposal.
Mizgir, Kupava’s betrothed, arrives. He pays the bride price, but seeing the Snow Maiden, forgets Kupava.
Kupava, insulted, calls the villages together. People demand punishment for Mizgir, the betrayer. Everybody goes to Tsar Berendey, the ruler of this land.


Act II

People sing for Tsar Berendey of happiness and well-being.
However, the ruler is worried; since the Sun last shone, less and less children have been born, more and more people have been dying. He suggests getting all the youth together and try to revive love in people’s hearts.
Kupava confesses her misfortunes to Tsar Berendey, tells him about Mizgir and the Snow Maiden. Tsar Berendey announces a trial of Mizgir.
Mizgir rejects Kupava: he loves the Snow Maiden. Tsar Berendey sentences him to an eternal exile. Bakula and his wife bring along the Snow Maiden. Astonished Tsar Berendey cannot believe such beauty can exist without love. Mizgir and Lel volunteer to “kindle a flame in the Snow Maiden’s pristine heart”.


Act III

Following Tsar Berendey’s decree, the village youth come together in the Stone Forest. It has a reputation of a dangerous place, though also known for miracles.
Lel entertains the assembly with songs, and to reward him, Tsar Berendey gives him the right to choose a girl who would kiss him. To the Snow Maiden’s horror, Lel chooses Kupava.
Tsar Berendey calls everybody to join his feast.
The Snow Maiden feels shaken by Lel’s choice. She does not respond to Mizgir’s declarations of love, and when he tries to force himself on her, Wood Spirit comes to protect the Snow Maiden.
The Snow Maiden accidentally sees Lel and Kupava’s amorous meeting. Her suffering becomes unbearable. She goes to her mother, Spring, and asks to teach her to love.


Act IV

Scene One

The Snow Maiden calls her mother. Spring lets her daughter in on the secret of femininity, but also warns her about the danger: a passion can ruin the fragile girl.

Scene Two

The Snow Maiden meets Mizgir again. Now she is in love with him. She opens her heart in front of all the Berendei folk and melts away in the rays of the recovered light.
Having lost the Snow Maiden, Mizgir kills himself. The Sun rises above the village.