ACT I. The Captain's room. The soldier Wozzeck shaves his Captain. The officer says Wozzeck lacks morality, citing his bastard child. Wozzeck answers that virtue is a luxury and not for "we poor folk."
An open field. Wozzeck and a fellow-solider, Andres, are cutting firewood for the Captain. Wozzeck is frightened by his own visions.
Marie's room. Marie and a neighbor, Margret, watch a military band pass, and Marie first takes notice of the Drum Major. She sings a lullaby to her child. Wozzeck arrives and describes his visions. Marie wants to comfort him, but he rushes off.
The Doctor's study. To earn a little extra money, Wozzeck allows himself to be experimented upon by the Doctor.
Street before Marie's door. Marie resists the Drum Major's advances but then succumbs.
ACT II. Marie's room. Wozzeck sees the earrings given to Marie by the Drum Major. She says she found them. The soldier gives her his wages and leaves. She berates herself for the deceit.
The Captain and the Doctor talk morbidly of sickness and death. As Wozzeck passes by, they goad him with allusions to Marie's infidelity.
Street before Marie's door. Wozzeck confronts Marie with his suspicions and tries to force her to confess.
A beer garden. Two drunk apprentices amuse the crowd. Wozzeck enters and sees Marie and the Drum Major dancing together. A fool says he smells blood; Wozzeck sees everything covered in a red mist.
The barracks. The Drum Major comes in among the soldiers and flaunts his seduction of Marie. He then beats Wozzeck.
ACT III. Marie's room. Marie, alone, reads from the Bible the story of Mary Magdalene.
A path near a pond. Marie and Wozzeck are walking together. Marie wants to hurry back to town, but Wozzeck makes her sit with him. Wozzeck's reminiscences about their life together make her nervous. She attempts to escape, but he draws a knife and murders her.
A tavern. Margret and the apprentices spot blood on Wozzeck's hands and clothing. He cannot explain it and rushes out.
A path near a pond. Wozzeck searches for the knife so he can more safely hide it. He wades into the water to wash himself. The Doctor and Captain, passing by, hear him drown.
A street before Marie's door. While playing, neighbor children tell Marie's child that his mother is dead, but he does not understand.