Synopsis of the opera The Speculator
Rosalia's apartment. Rosalia is engaged in household tasks. Boredom is written on her face. Agafia enters, bringing milk. They begin to chat. Rosalia says that her husband died one year ago and that she wants to marry again. She is even ready to give three gold coins to anyone who finds a husband for her, the only condition being that he is intelligent. On hearing this, Agafia asks for five gold coins and expresses a wish to engage as a matchmaker, in as much as she has a man in mind already. Agafia lavishes praise on him. Rosalia asks to be introduced to this man.
Nikolasha and Agafia's apartment. Nikolasha is alone. He is in love with himself, standing before the mirror, flexing his muscles, straightening his torso and placing his legs and feet in different positions. Agafia runs in. She tells her husband that he must play the role of Rosalia's potential groom. Then they will get fifty roubles from her. They could even register the marriage. And then he can return to Agafia using the pretence that they did not suit one another. Nikolasha eagerly agrees to the scheme: "I am always exceedingly delighted to receive fifty roubles for doing nothing."
Rosalia's apartment. Rosalia is engaged in her household chorse. Her face beams with joy. Nikolasha appears. They have a loving idyll. At the most unsuitable moment Agafia enters, bringing milk. She is perplexed: why is Nikolasha not coming home? Already ten days have passed. It transpires that he never intended to return. He finds it "more interesting" with Rosalia. Agafia boxes Nikolasha's ears. Rosalia calmly asks Agafia to leave and shows her the door. The door closes in Agafia's face. Agafia takes out her fifty roubles and then looks at them in despair.