Act I

Scene 1

The palace of Queen Mekhmene Banu is plunged in mourning — her young sister, Shireen, is dying. The Vizier and the courtiers are full of anxiety. Mekhmene Banu is in despair. A Stranger, who appears out of the blue, says he will cure the Princess but, in return, Mekhmene Banu must sacrifice her beauty. In order to save the life of her sister whom she loves deeply, Mekhmene Banu accepts the Stranger’s cruel terms. Shireen is brought back to life.

Scene 2
In the palace square, the young court painter, Ferkhad, suddenly comes across Queen Mekhmene Banu and Princess Shireen who are taking a walk, surrounded by courtiers and the palace guard. The two sisters exchange gazes with Ferkhad and love for the young painter is born in their hearts. The procession moves off. Ferkhad is entranced by the beauty of the young Shireen. In the hope of seeing Ferkhad, Shireen secretly returns to the square. The two young people are greatly attracted to each other.

Act II

Scene 3

Mekhmene Banu is overcome by passion for Ferkhad. Nothing can distract her thoughts from the handsome youth. She realizes in despair that now she has lost her beauty, she will be unable to win his love.

Scene 4
The young Shireen dreams of happiness with her loved one: the thought that they may soon meet gives her great joy and also fills her with anxiety. Ferkhad makes his way into Shireen’s chamber and the lovers elope from the palace. Torn by jealousy, Mekhmene Banu orders that the lovers be seized. The fugitives are caught. The lovers’ pleas that they be granted their happiness are in vain. Mekhmene Banu sets Ferkhad an impossible task: in order to win Shireen, he must first bore a hole through the iron mountain which blocks the way of a water source to people. For the sake of his love, Ferkhad is willing to attempt the impossible. He bids farewell to Shireen.


Scene 5

Ferkhad, who is in the mountains, dreams that he has gained access to the water and before him he sees his beloved Shireen.

Scene 6
Mekhmene Banu is tormented by her passion for Ferkhad and remorse. She dreams she is beautiful again and that Ferkhad loves her. Shireen runs into the room and breaks into Mekhmene Banu’s reveries starting to implore her sister not to punish Ferkhad with whom she’s in love. Mekhmene Banu understands her like nor other and makes the last decision.They rushed away from the palace.

Scene 7
After having heard about Ferkhad’s great deal the people in the high expectation came to see him in the mountains. Queen Mekhmene Banu and Shireen appear surrounded by their suite. Overcome by happiness at their meeting, the lovers throw themselves into each other’s arms. The princess tries to take him away. But Ferkhad seeing speechless entreaty of the people dying from thirst Ferkhad makes a decision to stay in the mountains so as to accomplish a feat for the sake of love to the people and Shireen. Everyone is full of respect for his great altruism.