The wealthy merchant Skvalygin is going bestow his daughter Khavronia in marriage. He instructs Solomonida, his wife, how to behave with the guests and how to save money on wedding preparations.

Enter Skvalygin's nephew, young merchant Khvalimov. He asks his uncle to forgive his debtors and promises to clear half their bills, but Skvalygin's heart is not softened even by the news of the death of his sister, Khvalimov’s mother. He lectures his nephew and declares his business principles, the main of which is not to listen to the voices of conscience, and then kicks Khvalimov out of the house.

Skvalygin himself discusses with his daughter's fiancé, solicitor Kryuchkodey, how he might avoid returning the money and chattel. Kryuchkodey suggests deceiving lenders, mistresses Shchepetkova and Krepyshkina, by forging the inscriptions on their bills. Kryuchkodey misses the glorious days of successful moneymakers. Skvalygin decides to follow the advice of his future son-in-law. Together with Skvalygin's wife the two dream of wealth and jauntiness.

A widow comes to pray Skvalygin for mercy. Her property was repossessed for her debts. The miser is unwavering: he is only interested in money.

Shchepetkova and Krepyshkina come to get their property and money back. Skvalygin, who failed to escape from the unpleasant conversation, pretends to be completely broke, but the mistresses do not believe his words and go to the magistrate for the satisfaction over an unscrupulous moneylender.


The evening before Khavronia's wedding. Girls sing ritual songs. Enter guests, best man and the groom himself. Skvalygin is eager to make sure that even at the festival the guests drink and eat as little as possible. The choir praises the groom, the guests and the bride.


At the height of the rite, Shchepetkova and Krepyshkina arrive. They are accompanied by officer Pryamikov. Skvalygin welcomes them heartily, seeking to avoid paying. Kryuchkodey, who became Skvalygin's trustee on these bills, plays along with his father-in-law. Both pretend to be drunk and incapable of doing business. Failing to achieve their purpose, Shchepetkova, Krepyshkina and Pryamikov leave. Skvalygin and Kryuchkodey are overjoyed and leave together with their guests, leaving Solomonida with her friends – the wives of the merchants of the Merchant’s Yard who work for Skvalygin. The women continue to celebrate, but their libations cause discontent among the returning husbands. Skvalygin and Kryuchkodey force the guests to leave, but demand that they come to the wedding the next day to pay their respect.


Despite spending an evening together, Skvalygin demands a repayment of debts from the merchants and forces them to sell unsuitable goods at inflated prices, threatening to kick them out of the Merchant’s Yard.

Shchepetkova and Krepyshkina scold the goods offered to them and decide from then on to do without the mediation of merchants. Pryamikov invites them to work together to seek justice and get their property back from Skvalygin.

Kryuchkodey shows the future father-in-law his skills to unjustly extort money. He brings along Muzhik, in front of whose vehicle he threw himself, and demands goodwill payment. Skvalygin approves of the solicitor’s swindling. Together they decide that they should demand gifts from the merchants invited to the wedding. The merchants try to resist extortion, but at the last moment back down, afraid to confront their boss.

Skvalygin is happy with himself and the acquired wealth. But the merchants come to him with the news: Kryuchkodey was accused of fraud, and called Skvalygin his accomplice. Threats do not help, and the merchants refuse to give false testimonies in favour of Skvalygin. Muzhik joins the accusers. Kryuchkodey and Skvalygin, showering each other with reproaches, admit their guilt. The wedding put off, and justice triumphs.

General sponsor of the Bolshoi Theatre is Ingosstrakh Insurance Company
Privileged sponsor of the Bolshoi Theatre is Credit Suisse bank
Privileged partner of the Bolshoi Theatre is GUM