Hermia marries Lysander. Demetrius is in love with the bride as well. He has no interest in Helena, who adores him. Oberon has hardly greeted all of the wedding guests before his wife Titania leaves the ceremony. She knows from her own painful experience that marital bliss is short-lived.
I The wedding guests Night and Hymen request for the festivities to be moved into nature. Titania asks the guests to be quiet. But Oberon does not share her wish. Two bridal fairies, Mystery and Spring, mock him. Puck predicts that the guests will not get any sleep this night. Love will keep their eyes open.
II The Indian Boy calls upon the Songsters of the Sky. Demetrius flees into the forest and tries to get away from Helena, who wants to follow him to her ruin. Oberon knows a remedy: Puck is to fetch a flower that can be used to cast a love spell. Spring sings to lift the low spirits of the guests. The argument between Oberon and Titania escalates. Oberon accuses her of infidelity and demands the Indian Boy for his entourage.
Night falls. Hermia fears that true lovers have been ever crossed. Mystery reminds that love should be concealed. The Queen of Secresie shares her secret with the wedding guests: »One charming night / Gives more delight / Than a hundred lucky days.« Lysander wants to heed the advice and lie with his bride but Hermia keeps her distance. Hymen sings the guests to sleep while Helena still wanders through the forest, lost. Cupid, so she claims, loosens his darts blindly.
III When Lysander awakens, he is ablaze with love for Helena. Helena does not understand what is happening. Hermia awakens from a heavy sleep. In her dreams, a serpent was eating away at her breast. Puck is the only one amused by the course of events. He urges Oberon to hurry before the break of day.
Demetrius encounters the Queen of Secresie on his flight through the forest. A game of seduction begins. Helena observes them and is sure: the night’s merriments only serve as a means to mock her. Mystery advises her not to trust a lover’s false promises; she should be just as inconstant as all men are.
Oberon decides to take action: As punishment for her infidelity, Titania is to fall in love with a beast. Hymen and the Indian Boy share another of the night’s wisdoms: »A thousand ways we’ll find / To entertain the hours«. Puck compares the lovers to madmen and poets – they »are of imagination all compact«. Oberon sprinkles droplets into Titania’s eyes. She awakens and descends into the realm of mortals.
IV Hermia has found Lysander, who is now in love with Helena, on a clearing with fountains. Night announces the break of day and the birthday of King Oberon. The Queen of Secresie and the Indian Boy mock the deceived Hermia with a joyous hymn. The guests, who have gathered again, worship the sun. Titania feels rejuvenated by her new, animalistic love and dreams of staying together till death. Spring, Summer and Autumn are overflowing with praise for Oberon. Only Helena’s heart remains alone in the bitter winter. Her friendship with Hermia is shattered.
V The young lovers fight. Helena now is love’s trophy, Hermia matters no more. Night appears and advises them to banish jealousy from their lives and be ever faithful in marriage. A veil of sorrow is cast upon the scene. The Queen of Secresie dreams of a place of innocence where there is no room for the worldly ambitions of men. More and more animals dance around the spellbound Titania. Her love becomes a feverish longing until Oberon and Puck at last begin to feel pity and free the frantic lovers from their spell. The night’s events seem like a dream to everyone. Headed by Hymen, the wedding celebrations continue.