Searching for his lost love, Ivan finds himself in a mysterious and ominous place. A flock of firebirds descend. Ivan hides and watches the mythical creatures in their nightly ritual. He starts to chase one and captures her as the rest scatter in fear. The captive Firebird struggles to free herself and finally breaks away, leaving him with a magical feather which will summon her in times of danger.
A group of maidens suddenly appears. Ivan wonders if his love is among them but cannot be sure as they are transformed under a spell. He reveals himself to the maidens who seem to resent his intrusion. Slowly, they accept his presence. He is drawn to one particular Maiden, and she too seems taken with him. They come together but are interrupted by the arrival of Kaschei, the evil sorcerer who controls the maidens with his magical power. As the group greets their master with blind adoration, the Maiden attempts to hide Ivan but is unsuccessful. Angered by Ivan’s presence, Kaschei exerts his power and initiates a deadly game. Ivan uses the feather to summon the Firebird to his rescue.
The Firebird arrives and begins an infectious dance, compelling everyone to participate until they collapse from exhaustion. She lulls the maidens to sleep, and she and Kaschei struggle over the fates of Ivan and the Maiden. In a trance, the Maiden is unable to recognize Ivan as her true love and allows herself to be seduced by Kaschei. Ivan feels lost and betrayed, but the Firebird shows him a way to break
the spell. He shatters an egg containing Kaschei’s soul and power, killing him. Kaschei’s kingdom disintegrates, and the maidens awake from his spell as victims of his past curses are liberated, free to reunite with their lost loves.