Warm summer night. The eve of John the Baptist feast. According to the tradition girls throw garlands of flowers onto the river to predict their future. The most beautiful among them is Lileya. All young men are charmed by her. She loves Stepan, her childhood friend, and their love is mutual. Lileya and Stepan ask the Prince permission for their engagement. At first the Prince agrees but then, seeing the beauty of the girl, he decides to part the beloved couple; he orders to bring the girl to his castle and to take Stepan as a servant.
However the community decides to send Stepan to Zaporizhska Sich and to protect Lileya from the Prince.
Exhausted Lileya is on the bank ok the lake. Tired and lonely she is found by gypsies. Lileya falls asleep and dreams strange dream: Stepan is surrounded by dancing mermaids. But all of a sudden she awakes.
Blind folk singers – the kobzars – are approaching the lake. Stepan is among them. On his way to Zaporizhska Sich he was caught and blinded by the Prince’s soldiers. The Prince appears and wants to kill Stepan.
However people come and kill the cruel Prince. Blind Stepan calls for fight for freedom and happiness.