The Tsarina’s Slippers (Cherevichki) by P. Tchaikovsky is a beloved fairytale about Vakula, a smith, beautiful Oksana, incomparable Solokha.
The Tsarina’s Slippers (Cherevichki) by P. Tchaikovsky is a beloved fairytale about Vakula, a smith, beautiful Oksana, incomparable Solokha and other characters based on the story Christmas Eve by Nikolai Gogol.
In 1870, the directorate of the St. Petersburg Russian Musical Society ordered A. Serov opera based on the plot of Gogol's The Christmas Eve. Due to the sudden death of the composer in 1871, a competition named after Serov was announced for composing the named opera to the libretto of the famous poet Y. Polonsky (1819–1898). P.Tchaikovsky took part in the competition.
An opera called Blacksmith Vakula was written with passion and was completed in three months. In 1874, a jury consisting of the largest composers and authoritative musicians, namely, N.Rimsky-Korsakov, A.Rubinstein, E.Napravnik, unanimously decided to award P.Tchaikovsky with two prizes.
The opera, staged at the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on November 24 (December 6), 1876, was warmly received by the public. However, the composer, reworked it ten years later and renamed it Cherevichki. The second edition was supplemented with new scenes, the musical characteristics of the characters became more developed. The premiere, which took place at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater on January 19 (31), 1887, strengthened the success of the work. Tchaikovsky himself conducted the opera.
Tchaikovsky had an interest in Gogol’s works throughout his life, but Cherevichki remained his only Gogol’s opera. On the basis of a story that poetically depicts the life of the Ukrainian people (Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka was published in 1831-1832), Polonsky wrote a successful, according to the composer, libretto, in which he significantly strengthened the lyrical line associated with Oksana and Vakula , developed the scenes of Solokha with the devil, but retained the original Gogol’s plot.
The action takes place in 1774 in the Ukrainian village of Dikanka and in St. Petersburg.
Christmas Eve! A night of magic, hopes, divination, love, magical desires, a whirlwind of wondrous angels and demonic evil spirits...
Solokha, the mother of the smith Vakula (they say, a witch), admires the beauty of the stars and the brilliance of the moon as if spellbound ... And here the Devil appeared from the underworld. Together with Solokha they fly and steal the month from the sky for fun.
Sudden darkness scattered the inhabitants of Dikanka. Chub (Oksana's father) and his godfather Panas lost each other in a whirlwind of snow without reaching the tavern...
“What fool would go caroling in such a blizzard?”
Oksana is alone at home. She dreams, remembering her dead mother, tries on her veil, talks with mother in the hope that she hears and peeps from the other world through a crack at her beautiful daughter.
Tonight is a special night before Christmas! No blizzard will stop a lover in Oksana Vakula. After all, today you can go into any house without an invitation. The smith decided on a confession, clumsily blurted out the entire supply of words about love. Oksana pushes him to take decisive action, because Chub can marry Vakula Solokha's mother.
A fairly tipsy Chub tumbles into the hut, hardly understanding whose house he ended up in. Vakula didn't recognize Chub and rudely pushed him out. Oksana, without waiting for the promised kiss, quarrels with Vakula, stupidly trying to arouse jealousy in him ...
... After dashing flights, Solokha continues to have fun with the Devil. A knock on the door – Pan Golova appears... Solokha orders to hide the Devil in the sack. But suddenly there is another knock on the door – Schoolmaster came to the beauty, trying to invite Solokha “to the feast of love”. Pan Golova hides in the sack as well. Again, there was a knock on the door - Solokha's caresses and warmth now came to scoop up Chub. There was a knock on the door, and a terrible thing happened: Vakul’s son came to pick up the sacks to take them to the smithy. And he took all of them...
... On a festive night, everyone in Dikanka is having fun. Oksana figured out how to provoke Vakula: “Get the tsarina’s slippers for me and I'll marry you,” she said. Vakula, realizing that such a condition is impossible, perceives this as a public refusal. He says goodbye to everyone in despair and runs away...
... Goblin, mermaids – everything lives and breathes, all the worlds met on this magical night!
Vakula cannot forget Oksana. All thoughts are only about her, and this gives incredible strength, he saddled the Devil and flies into another unknown world to the Empress in St. Petersburg ...
... Accidentally, Vakula meets fellow countrymen in the palace. And here is His Highness Prince Potemkin and the Empress herself. And everyone has such little slippers that Vakula’s head is spinning!
His Highness likes the naivete of the young man and he gives him the coveted slippers of the Empress ...
Christmas morning is overshadowed by the commemoration of Vakula. But Christmas is a Miracle! And the Miracle happened – Vakula returned, and even with gifts!
At his feet, he rushes to Chub, asking for forgiveness and begging to give him Oksana as his wife.
And here is Oksana, tears of happiness splashed from the beauty's eyes. And the little ones are good on her feet, “as if made from pure sugar.”
May you live happily ever after!
A significant place in the repertoire of the St. Petersburg Opera is taken by the cycle called “Operetta in the Opera House”.
The famous legend of Tristan and Isolde is elegantly played in the libretto.
The performance by Yuri Alexandrov gives the audience a new look at the familiar plot of the most popular Russian opera.