This composer took the story for this opera from a tale by a famous Russian author. The tale originally appeared in a collection of short stories written in a folkloric style, reflecting his love of both national folklore and the strange and grotesque. Other than an appearance by some carolers, there is little familiar Christmas lore here. Instead, the plot concerns a young blacksmith who must capture the Devil in a sack and fly on his back to St. Petersburg in a scheme to procure the Empress’s slippers and impress his girlfriend. Oh, yes… there’s also a subplot about stealing the moon.