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Music Text

Libretto by the composer and Valentin Katayev, after Katayev's novel 'I am a Son of the Working People' (R)


4S,S(or high M),M(or S),3C,6T,BBar,4Bar,2B9or Bar),6B;chorus
On and off-stage bands: 2hn.2tpt,picctpt.3trbn.tuba-perc:SD/BD/alarm
bell/frame dr/cuckoo-folk lute-concertina-gtr

Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski for the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Israel.


World Premiere
Serafima Birman, director
Conductor: Mikhail Zhukov
Company: Stanislavsky Opera Theatre


Semyon Kotko Tenor
Semyon's mother Mezzo Soprano
Frosya, Semyon's sister Soprano
Remeniuk, chairman of the village Soviet Bass
Tkachenko, a former sergeant-major Bass
Khivrya, Tkachenko's wife Mezzo Soprano
Sofya, Tkachenko's daughter Soprano
Tsaryov, a sailor Baritone
Lyubka, Tsaryov's fiancée Soprano
Mikola, a young lad Tenor
Ivasenko, an old man Bass
Workman, former landowner Klembovsky Tenor
German soldiers, Haydamaks, women, old men, Semyon's companions
Time and Place

1918, Ukraine


At the end of the First World War, Lenin’s Bolshevik government has made peace with Germany but the Western Ukraine is still occupied by the Germans in alliance with counter-revolutionary Ukrainian nationalists. The peasant-soldier Semyon Kotko returns to his home village. Semyon hopes to marry Sonya, daughter of the rich peasant Tkachenko, whose life he saved in the war. Semyon’s mother and his sister Frosya send the traditional matchmakers but Tkachenko is not eager to accept such a poor son-in-law. Three Germans arrive to requisition food, but they are made drunk by the villagers and leave, threatening revenge. The communists of the village soviet, Semyon’s friends, decide that all revolutionaries should hide in the steppe. As Germans and nationalists arrive, Tkachenko decides to prevent his daughter’s marriage to Semyon. He names several revolutionaries who are brutally hanged and lists other dangerous peasants, including Semyon. Semyon and Frosya’s lover Mikola escape as the Germans set light to Semyon’s mother’s cottage. In the forest at night, Semyon and Mikola meet up with the communist partisans and together they vow to retrain and take the village back. After months in hiding, Frosya bring them news of further atrocities. Moreover Tkachenko is planning to marry Sonya to the pre-revolutionary landowner. The Red Army is advancing and the partisans must prepare the village for liberation. Semyon and Mikola set out in advance and arrive as Sonia is being forced into the church. There is a fight, and Semyon and Mikola are captured and prepared for execution. Suddenly, the Germans are ordered to retreat as the Red Army is near. The other partisans arrive, Tkachenko is taken off to be shot, the happy couples are reunited, and all prepare for the revolutionary struggle ahead for a free Soviet Ukraine.


Dramatic, Romantic

Recommended Recording

Tatiana Pavlovskaya/Ekaterina Solovieva/Viktor Lutsiuk/Genady Bezzubenkov/Kirov Opera and Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Philips 464 605-2 (2 CDs)

Click here to purchase this CD set from Amazon


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