February 20, 1598. For a month already, Boris Godunov has shut himself up with his sister in a monastery, leaving “all worldly” and refusing to accept the Moscow throne. The people explain Godunov’s refusal to marry the kingdom in the right spirit for Boris: “He is afraid of the radiance of the throne.” Godunov’s game is well understood by the “crafty courtier” Boyar Shuisky, who is perspicaciously guessing the further development of events: “The people will still turn and cry, / Boris will still frown a little, […] And finally, by his grace / Accept the crown humbly agree…” otherwise “the blood of the child prince” was wasted, in whose death Shuisky directly accuses Boris.
Events develop as Shuisky predicted. The people, “that the waves are near the row,” falls on his knees and with “howl” and “crying” begs Boris to become a king. Boris hesitates, then, interrupting his monastic seclusion, takes “Great power (as he says in his throne speech) with fear and humility.”
Four years have passed. Night. In the Chudov Monastery cell, Father Pimen is preparing to complete the chronicle with “the last legend”. The young monk Grigory is awakening, sleeping right there in Pimen’s cell. He complains about the monastic life that he has to lead from his adolescence, and envies the merry “youth” of Pimen: “You
Gregory fled from the monastery, announcing that he would be “king in Moscow.” This is reported by the abbot of Chudova monastery patriarch.
The patriarch gives the order to catch the fugitive and send him to the Solovetsky Monastery for an eternal settlement.
The royal chambers. The king enters after the “favorite conversation” with the sorcerer. He’s gloomy. For the sixth year he reigns “quietly,” but the possession of the Moscow throne did not make him happy. But the thoughts and deeds of Godunov were high: “I thought your people in contentment, in glory to soothe […], I have set them barns, I gold / crumble them […] I built them a new home…” . The stronger disappointment that has gripped him: “Neither power nor life amuses me […], I do not have happiness.” Yet the source of severe mental king crisis lies not only in recognizing them the futility of all his works, but also in the throes of a bad conscience ( “Yes, is pitiful that is unclean in whom conscience”).
Tavern on the Lithuanian border. Gregory Otrepyev, dressed in a worldly dress, sits at the table with tramps-black Misail and Varlam. He tells the mistress of the road to Lithuania. The bailiffs enter. They are looking for Otrepiev, in their hands the royal decree with its signs. Gregory is called to read the decree and, reading it, replaces his signs with the signs of Misail. When deception unfolds, he deftly slips out of the hands of the bewildered guard.
The house of Vasily Shuisky. Among the guests of Shuisky, Afanasy Pushkin. He has news from Krakow from his nephew Gavrila Pushkin, whom he leaves after the departure of the guests with the host: at the court of the Polish king appeared Dimitry, “the great boy, By the mania of Boris killed…”. Dimitri “is smart, friendly, loving, like everyone”, the king brought him closer to him and, “they say, I will help him”. For Shuisky this news “the message is important, and if it reaches the people, it will be a great storm.”
The royal chambers. Boris learns from Shuisky about the impostor who appeared in Krakow, and “that the king and the pani for him.” Hearing that the impostor is pretending to be Tsarevich Dimitri, Godunov begins to ask Shuisky in excitement, who was investigating this case in Uglich 13 years ago. While comforting Boris, Shuisky confirms that he saw the murdered prince, but among other things he mentions the immortality of his body – three days the corpse of Dimitry Shuisky “visited the cathedral in the cathedral […], But the children’s face of the prince was clear, / And fresh and quiet, as if put to sleep. “
Krakow. In the house of Vishnevetsky Grigory (now he is the Pretender) seduces his future supporters, promising each of them what he expects from the Pretender: the Jesuit Chernikov gives a promise to subjugate Russia to the Vatican, runaway Cossacks promise liberty, disgraced servants of Boris – retribution.
In the castle of the governor Mniszka in Sambor, where the Pretender stops for three days, he falls “in the net” to his lovely daughter Marina. Falling in love, he confesses to her in imposture, because he does not want to “share with the dead a mistress.” But Marina does not need the love of a runaway monk, all her thoughts are directed towards the Moscow throne. After evaluating the “impudent deception” of the Pretender, she insults him until a sense of dignity is awakened in him and he does not give her a proud rebuke, calling himself Demetrius.
October 16, 1604 Pretender with regiments approaching the Lithuanian border. He is tormented by the thought that he called “enemies of Russia”, but he immediately finds an excuse: “But let my sin not fall on me – And on you, Boris-regicide!”
At the meeting of the tsar’s Duma, it is a question of the Pretender who already besieged Chernigov. The Tsar gives Shchelkalov an order to send out “all the ends of decrees to the voevoda”, so that “people […] are expelled to the service.” But the most dangerous thing is that the rumor about the Pretender evoked “alarm and doubt”, “a whisper roars in the squares of the rebellious.” Shuisky calls himself to calm the people, revealing the “evil deception of the tramp.”
On December 21, 1604, the Pretender’s army defeated the Russian army near Novgorod-Seversky.
Square in front of the cathedral in Moscow. In the cathedral, the Mass had just ended, where an anathema to Gregory was proclaimed, and now the “eternal memory” of Tsarevich Dimitri was sung. The people are crowding in the square, the holy fool Nikolka is sitting by the cathedral. The boys tease him and select a penny. The king comes out of the cathedral. Nikolka turns to him with the words: “Little children are hurting Nikolka […] Have them slaughtered, as you slaughtered the little prince.” And then, in response to the request of the king to pray for him, he throws after him: “No, no, you can not pray for the king Herod – the Mother of God does not order.”
In Sevsk, the army of False Dimitry “is completely” completely broken, but the catastrophic rout does not plunge the Pretender in despair. “It is stored, of course, providence”, – sums up the fellow Pretender Gavrila Pushkin.
But this victory of the Russian troops is “vain”. “He again assembled the scattered army,” Boris Basmanov says, “And from the walls of Putivl threatens us.” Dissatisfied with the boyars, Boris wants to put the leader of the ungenerous but intelligent and talented Basmanov. But a few minutes after the conversation with Basmanov, the king “fell ill”, “On the throne he sat and suddenly fell – / The blood gushed out of his mouth and out of his ears.”
The dying Boris asks him to leave alone with the prince. Fervently loving his son and blessing him to reign, Boris strives to assume full responsibility for what he has done: “You will reign now by right.” I, I will answer God for all… “
After the king’s farewell to his son, the patriarch, the boyars, the queen with the princess enter. Godunov takes the oath of allegiance from Basmanov and the boyars to serve Theodore “diligence and truth”, after which a ritual is performed on the dying man.
Rate. Basmanov, highly exalted by Theodore (he “commands the army”), talks with Gavril Pushkin. He offers Basmanov on behalf of Demetrius “friendship” and “first vignette on him in the Moscow kingdom”, if the governor gives “an example of prudent Dmitry to proclaim the tsar”. The thought of a possible betrayal horrifies Basmanov, and yet he begins to hesitate after Pushkin’s words: “But do you know what we are strong, Basmanov? Not by the army, no, do not help Polish, And opinion, yes, the opinion of the people.”
Moscow. Pushkin on the Place of Exile refers to the “Moscow citizens” from Tsarevich Dimitri, to whom “Russia submitted,” and “Basmanov himself with repentance of his zealous regiments led him to swear.” He calls on the people to kiss the cross “to the rightful ruler,” to beat “the brow of the father and the sovereign.” After him, a peasant rises to the pulpit, throwing into the crowd a cry: “The people, the people, to the Kremlin, to the royal chambers!” Go and knit Borisov’s puppy! ” The people, supporting the call, “rushes with a crowd” with the words: “Knit, sink, Long live Dimitri! / May the blood of Boris Godunov perish!”
Kremlin. Boris’s house is taken into custody. At the window the children of Boris – Theodore and Xenia. From the crowd there are remarks, in which there is a pity for the Tsar’s children: “poor children, that birds in the cage,” “the father was a villain, and the children are innocent.” The stronger the moral shock of people, when, after a noise, a fight, a female squeal in the house on the porch, a boyar Mosalsky appears with the message: “The people, Maria Godunova and her son Theodore poisoned themselves with poison.” We saw their dead corpses. (The people keep silent in horror.) Why are you silent? Shout: Long live Tsar Dimitry Ivanovich! The people are silent. “