«How intoxicating, how magnificent is a summer day in Little Russia1! How luxuriously warm the hours when midday glitters in stillness and sultry heat and the blue fathomless ocean covering the plain like a dome seems to be slumbering, bathed in languor... »

Nikolay Gogol

Act I

Life at the village fair in Sorochintsy turns like a motley wheel. Cherevik has arrived with his wife Khivrya and daughter Parasya. While Cherevik is trying to sell the mare and wheat, Parasia meets a young man, Grytsko.
Suddenly Cherevik appears. At first, he is about to rebuff the young man, whereupon he finds out that the fellow is the son of his old friend Ochrim Golopupenko, and welcomes him. In the meantime rumours are circulating at the fair about some «Red Jacket»2, supposedly being pursued by the Devil himself.
In the evening, Cherevik and his friend come from the tavern and strike up a song. Suddenly Khivrya appears; she objects to Parasia’s marrying «some ragamuffin». It is useless to argue with Khivrya.
Cherevik grieves. Gritsko is very sorrowful. The Gypsy is willing to settle the affair, if the young man will sell him his bullocks for a low price...

Act II

This scene takes place in the peasant cottage of Cherevik’s godfather. Khivrya scolds Cherevik, who is sleeping. She is impatiently waiting for Afanasy Ivanovich, the priest’s son. Khivrya arranged a quarrel with him, expelled him so that he guarded the mare and wheat all night long. Afanasy Ivanovich appears. Khivrya carefully prepares the table. But their agreeable conversation doesn’t continue for long. Suddenly they hear a knock at the gate. Khivrya hides Afanasy Ivanovich in the polaty3 and opens the door.
Cherevik, Godfather and some guests come in. The guests are perturbed upon hearing the rumours about «Red Jacket». Cherevik asks his friend to tell the story about the mysterious «Red Jacket». While the story is still in progress, they hear a noise, and see the Devil’s ugly piggish face in the window. Afanasy Ivanovich falls out of the polaty. Among the guests begins a panic, they run away in fear.


Scene I
Cherevik and Godfather are running down the street. Some fellows under the Gypsy’s leadership, taking advantage of this, tie up Cherevik and his friend. They accuse them of theft and will not accept any excuse. Then Gritsko appears. He is ready to let Cherevik go on one condition - that he be allowed to marry Parasya. Cherevik rejoicingly consents and promises to organize the wedding for the next day.

Scene II
Parasya is alone. She is pining for Gritsko and sings a sad song. But soon her melancholy gives way and her song becomes merry. Cherevik joins his daughter. Gritsko comes in with the wedding guests. Cherevik blesses the young people. Shortly after Khivrya appears and tries to prevent the wedding, but the Gypsy and his gang catch her and, laughing, bear her away. The rejoicing begins. The guests begin dancing the gopak.


1The name of the Ukraine before 1917.
2«Svitka» – a loose, long-sleeved jacket fastened by a girdle.
3Polaty – planking fixed between the ceiling and the stove used as a sleeping place.