Prologue: Lockwood, a tenant of Heathcliff's, finds shelter from a storm at the hearth of Wuthering Heights. Isabella, Heathcliff's wife, brings the man books to help pass the time. He opens the diary of Catherine Linton and suddenly Cathy's ghost appears calling for Heathcliff. Heathcliff, disturbed by the commotion, hears Lockwood's explanation and runs out into the storm to find Cathy.
Act I opens 15 years earlier. The position of young Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights is being argued over by Cathy's father, Earnshaw, and her brother, Hindley. Earnshaw dies of a heart attack and Hindley, jealous of Earnshaw's fondness for the boy, reduces him to a mere servant. Nevertheless, Cathy and Heathcliff swear to love each other always and they rebel against Hindley's tyranny. Running across the moors with Heathcliff, Cathy twists her ankle and is taken in by the Lintons. Weeks later, after recovering at the Lintons, Cathy returns home and has taken on grand airs. She is shocked to find Heathcliff so ill-kempt; frustrated and embarrassed, he throws a cup of tea at Edgar Linton. Cathy eventually succumbs to Edgar's romantic attentions and she marries him. She has misgivings about the marriage and confides these thoughts to Nelly, who tells her that Heathcliff has left Wuthering Heights. Cathy runs into the stormy night calling his name.
Three years later, Cathy and her husband Edgar are throwing a party. Heathcliff, now a wealthy man, arrives at the party and engages in a high-stakes card game with Hindley. Hindley foolishly loses his last possession, Wuthering Heights, to Heathcliff. Cathy discovers that Isabella is in love with Heathcliff. Cathy's refusal to run away with Heathcliff prompts him to ask Isabella to marry him. Later in the opera, Cathy is dying. Heathcliff comes to visit and they recapture the love they once had. She dies in Heathcliff's arms just as Edgar enters the room. Heathcliff runs from the house imploring Cathy to never leave him but to haunt him for the rest of his life.