The mighty King Shakhriyar bids farewell to his beautiful wife Nurida: a passionate hunter, accompanied by archers he departs on a hunting expedition. Left alone, Nurida makes short shrift of her grief at her husband's absence, the numerous servants organising an orgy at her command. On his unexpectedly sudden return from the hunt, Shakhriyar discovers Nurida in the embrace of a slave. He is utterly stunned at this betrayal by his favourite wife. In vain does Nurida beg her husband for mercy, and so Shakhriyar kills this unfaithful woman in his wrath. And yet this vengeance brings no peace to his soul. The cuckolded husband and humiliated ruler resolves on a terrible undertaking – all of the nation's young women are to be executed. Each night a virginal beauty is to be brought to him and, at dawn, the executioners will take her life. Shakhriyar is frenzied in his anger, and prayers for those doomed to die are in vain.
And yet the King's eye falls on one of the maidens – Schéhérezade; at the last minute, he stops the executioner. Schéhérezade implores Shakhriyar that the maidens' punishment be postponed and for him to listen to her exciting stories and tales that extol the most highly-prized virtues that women can possess: beauty, love and wisdom. The King agrees.
On the first evening, Schéhérezade narrates the story of a beautiful maiden whom the fearless Sinbad freed from the claws of the evil Roc bird which he has defeated. Staggered at the maiden's beauty, Sinbad falls in love with her, and her response is mutually fervent. They went on to live in happiness for many years.
The next tale narrates the story of Aladdin, his magic lamp, the Princess Budur and a witch. The young Aladdin, passing all fearsome trials, wins in his battle with the witch in the name of his love for Princess Budur. Again love is triumphant.