Anna Karenina synopsis
Music by Iain Hamilton
Libretto by the composer after Tolstoy
First performed: 1981
Moscow: the Railway Station. Vronsky, who is waiting for his mother, Countess Vronskaya, meets Stiva, who has come to welcome his sister, Anna. Vronsky is expecting to marry Stiva’s sister-in-law, Kitty. Stiva has asked Anna – the wife of an important civil servant - to make peace for him with his wife Dolly after his infidelity with a governess. Anna arrives with Mme Vronskaya and eis very disturbed by the accidental death of a railwayman on the tracks, which she interprets as a bad omen.
Dolly’s house. Anna persuades Dolly to forgive her brother. Kitty, delighted at the prospect of her first ball, notices Anna’s mood changes at the talk of Vronsky.
Prince Sherbatsky’s Ball. During the evening, Anna and Vronsky are drawn closer together and Kitty feels that he ahs rejected her.
St Petersburg: a small party at Countess Betsy’s. Although Anna insists to Vronsky that they must remain simply friends, she refuses to leave when Karenin tells her that her growing intimacy with Vronsky has been noticed.
Krasnoe Selo: the racecourse. Vronsky’s friend, Prince Yashvin, advices him to forget his problems with Anna and concentrate on the race. Karenin notices his wife’s extreme concern when Vronsky’s horse falls, and compels her to drive home with him at once. She tells him that she loves Vronsky.
A garden house at Karenin’s. Anna condemns herself for letting Vronsky know just before the race that’s he was carrying their child. He consoles her lovingly with a plan to leave Russia and to travel to Italy together.
Moscow: Karenin’s House. So as to save his face in society, Karenin resolves not to give Anna a divorce.
Moscow: Vronsky’s rooms. Yashvin reminds Vronsky that society will not endure an open love affair with a married woman. Anna, upset by Karenin’s threats not to let her see their son, Seriosha, describes her fear of dying in childbirth.
Anna’s room: in Karenin’s house. Anna sings a lullaby for Seriosha and reflects on the dilemma which her love for Vronsky brings in its wake: by Russian law a divorced woman must give up all rights to her child. Karenin interrupts her with a demand for Vronsky’s letters. She begs him to leave Seriosha with her until Vronskt’s child is born.
Moscow: Karinin’s house. Karenin listens unsympathetically while Dolly begs him not to divorce Anna. Nevertheless he decides to go to her when he hears she is dying in childbirth.
St Petersburg: Anna’s rooms. Delirious after the birth of her daughter, Anna insists that Vronsky and Karenin should forgive each other. In the emotion of the moment the two men are reconciled and Karenin agrees to give Anna anything she wants. Karenin accepts Stiva’s warning that only a divorce can bring her peace of mind and agrees to give her one. Vronsky tries unsuccessfully to comfort Anna with plans of a life together.
Vronsky’s estate outside Moscow. Six months later, Anna and Vronsky have returned from Italy and are entertaining Dolly and Stiva. Anna has been snubbed at the Opera and refuses to accept anything from Karenin – even his offer of a divorce. Vronsky is anxious that she should do so otherwise their children will be Karenin’s by law. But Dolly is unable to persuade Anna, who despairs of ever seeing Seriosha again.
St Petersburg: Karenin’s house. Karenin, now a broken man, refuses to offer a divorce a second time when Stiva visits him.
Moscow: Vronsky’s house. Anna quarrels with Vronsky and is unable to reach him later to ask his forgiveness. In despair, her mind unhinged by morphia, she recalls aspects of her life. She finds herself at the station and, remembering the omen, throws herself under the wheels of the train which is bringing Vronsky and his mother back from Moscow.
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