Opera in four acts (eight scenes)
Libretto by Ya. P. Polonsky
Solokha, mother of Vakula, witch
Besk from hell, fantastic face
Chub, the elderly Cossack
Oksana, daughter of Chuba
School teacher from bursakov
Parables, girls, old men and old women, guslar, mermaids, goblin, echoes, spirits, court ladies and gentlemen, Cossacks, and others.
action takes place in Dikanka in Ukraine and in Petersburg at the end of the XVIII century.
HISTORY OF CREATION
In 1870, the directorate of the Petersburg Russian Musical Society ordered A. N. Serov an opera on the subject “The Nights Before Christmas” by Gogol. In view of the sudden death of the composer (1871), a competition was named for Serov on the composition of the aforementioned opera on the libretto of the famous poet Ya. P. Polonsky (1819-1898). Tchaikovsky took part in the competition. The opera called “Vakula the Smith” was written with enthusiasm and three months later was over. In 1874, the jury consisting of the greatest composers and authoritative musicians – NA Rimsky-Korsakov, E. F. Napravnik, A. G. Rubinstein, unanimously decided to award Tchaikovsky two prizes at once – the first and the second. Staged on the stage of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater on November 24 (December 6), 1876, the opera was warmly received by the public. However, the composer, demanding to himself, after ten years reworked it and renamed it Cherevychki. The second edition
was supplemented with new scenes, the musical characteristics of the characters became more developed. The premiere, held at the Bolshoi Theater on January 19 (31), 1887, strengthened the success of the work. Conducted “Cherevichkami” author, the first to stand up for the conductor’s panel. Interest in the works of Gogol Tchaikovsky experienced throughout his life, but “Cherevichki” remained his only “Gogol” opera. On the basis of a story poeticly depicting the life of the Ukrainian people (“Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka” were published in 1831-1832), Polonsky wrote a successful libretto in the words of the composer, in which he significantly strengthened the lyric line associated with Oksana and Vakula,
Flirtatious young Solokha, who is known in the district as a witch, is not averse to taking a walk on New Year’s Eve. She shares her desires with a clear month. Unexpectedly creeps up caring for her Bes. He wants to take revenge on the blacksmith Vakule, the son of Solokha, who in the church so painted his figure, that even the devils laughed in hell. Today for revenge is an opportunity. Vakula will go on New Year’s Eve to his beloved Oksana, whose father, Chub, is invited to the clerk’s cook. And Bes, meanwhile, will steal a month and fan the blizzard. Then Chub will stay at home and meet Vakul with such strong cuffs that the blacksmith will not vainly remember the devil. The blizzard rises, the stars fade. Rides on the broom fly out of Solokha’s pipe, followed by Bes. And on earth at this time, life goes on as usual: Panas and Chub are going to visit the clerk, but, taken by surprise by a snowstorm, decide to find a tavern. The calculations of Bes were not justified.
Festively dressed Oksana coquettishly pretties herself in front of the mirror, admiring her beauty. Involuntarily entered Vakula stops in admiration. It’s not easy to take hold of her heart. In the meantime Chub, who had already visited the tavern, is drunk home. Pretending to not recognize Chub in the darkness, Vakula picks him out the door. Oksana reproaches the unlucky blacksmith. To annoy Vakula, she says that she has another lover. The dejected blacksmith leaves. Oksana regrets that she so cruelly teased Vakula. Her thoughts are scattered by gay friends and sailors going to carol, but she refuses to go with them. Left alone, Oksana admits to herself that she loves Vakula.
Solokha and Bes returned from the flight. To entertain, they decide to dance a hopak. The dance is interrupted by a loud knock at the door. Solokha hides Bes in a sack. Pan’s head enters, one of her many admirers. The conversation is again interrupted by a knock at the door. Solokha hides his head in another bag and admits the school teacher. His intrusive courtship is not successful; even a song specially composed for Solokha does not soften her heart. But they knock again; the guest is in turmoil. Solokha hides the school teacher in the last free bag. Chub enters the house. Lovely meets Solokha welcome guest. However, unexpectedly the son returns home, Vakula. In a joke, the terrified Solokha suggests Chubu to climb into the same bag where the School teacher hides. To come in Vakula Solokha advises to spend the night in a smithy. He agrees, but wants to take bags with him, although they can not lift them. But after all, more recently, he bent five-kopek, broke his horseshoe with his hands; evidently, longing and unrequited love completely dried up the young man. The stubborn blacksmith does not want to succumb to the steep slope and pulls out bags.
Young people are caressing under the windows, the Christmas night is ringing with merriment. Oxana joins the carer. Vakula passes by, loaded with heavy bags. Laughter and fun increase. At girlfriend Odarya Oksana notices wonderful cherevichki. Vakula promises to get her the same. But Oksana is not enough: she solemnly declares that she will marry him not earlier than she will get the cherevichki, the ones that the queen herself wears. Completely upset Vakula leaves with a small shoulder bag in which Bes hid. The remaining bags remain lying on the road, and the youth rushes to them. To everyone’s surprise, Chub, Head and School teacher get out of the bags. “Did I play a nice joke with you?” – says not confused Chub for a general laugh.
Winter night. Near the mill is a river flooded with moonlight. Here Vakula, who had been gripped by gloomy thoughts, had come to him. Deciding to commit suicide, he mentally bids farewell to Oksana. Suddenly a demon pops out of the bag and, riding Vakula, demands that he give his soul for Oksana. But the blacksmith manages to outsmart Bes. Pretending to sign his blood, Vakula grabs Bes’s tail and, in turn, sits down on his back. In vain, Bes begs to let him go. Vakula orders to fly immediately to St. Petersburg to the queen for the tufts.
Luxurious reception room in the royal palace. Appear Vakula and Bes. Vakula joins the Zaporozhye waiting for reception. Attendees are invited to the hall.
The palace hall is filled with guests. In dances the larry circles. Among the guests are the Cossacks and Vakula. The blacksmith begs the queen of the cherevichki, which she graciously gives him. The joy of Vakula is immense.
The bright sun illuminates the area in Dikanka. Solokha and Oksana bitterly lament Vakula, who has disappeared no one knows where. His unexpected appearance causes general joy. Vakula, with all the people, begs for forgiveness from Chub. Affected Chub agrees to give him a daughter. The girl rushes to Vakula, he presents her with cherevichki. “Do not, I do not want to, I without them!” – says happy Oksana. The people praise the bride and groom.