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At a New Year’s ball at Princess Betsy’s in St. Petersburg, Kitty, Dolly’s sister, is infatuated with Vronsky and refuses Levin’s proposal of marriage. Vronsky’s too-obvious attentions compromise Anna and, although she is attracted, she resists him. Anna’s husband insists that she try to maintain appearances, but discovers that her heart is locked against him.
The following spring, Dolly tries to persuade her sister Kitty that Vronsky is not worthy of her, and asks about her feelings for Levin. Levin himself is unable to take comfort, even from life as reborn in the spring. Stiva brings him news of Kitty and of Vronsky’s dangerous infatuation with Anna.
At the Karenins’ country house, Anna reveals to Vronsky that she will bear his child. He tries to persuade her to leave her husband but she refuses because the law would take away her son Seriosha. Vronsky suffers a severe accident at the races and Anna is distraught, but Karenin insists that she behave properly. She tells him that she cannot bear the sight of him—she loves Vronsky. Karenin still hopes to preserve his marriage; he must at all costs preserve his reputation. He insists that she return to him and continue as before. He will not consider a divorce. Anna must choose between her lover and her son. She tells Vronsky of her recurring death-dream, connected with the accident at the station. He cannot comfort her, and she suspects him of selfishness when he again urges her to go away with him. She begs Karenin to give her her son, but—consumed with rage—he refuses.
In the Admiralty Gardens in St. Petersburg, Levin cannot reconcile the ironies of life and longs for death. Dolly insists that he meet Kitty at their house. Stiva learns with horror from Karenin of his impending divorce from Anna and begs him to talk to Dolly. Yashvin tries to persuade Vronsky to give up Anna for the sake of his career, but he refuses. Meeting at the Oblonskys’ for the first time since Betsy’s ball, Levin and Kitty are both very moved. Karenin is angered by talk of unfaithful wives and luckless husbands, and Dolly cannot persuade him to forgive. Levin and Kitty declare their love during a game of solitaire and Stiva is delighted. Karenin comes home to find Anna near death after a miscarriage. He is reconciled to Vronsky at her bed-side and promises forgiveness. Levin is now happily married to Kitty, who is pregnant, but he remains dissatisfied with his useless and unproductive life — exemplified by news from Dolly that Anna, now recovered, has left Karenin for Vronsky and that Seriosha is with his aunt Lydia.
Anna asks Karenin’s permission to see Seriosha one last time on his birthday. Lydia urges Karenin to forbid this and, against his better judgment, he does so. Anna forces her way into her son’s bedroom. He had been told she was dead, and is overjoyed to see her. He cannot know that this is the last time he will see her; he is distraught when she has to leave. In her rooms at a hotel Anna, now addicted to opiates, is at the end of her tether. She doubts Vronsky’s fidelity and is haunted by death. She is like a train hurtling to destruction. When Dolly and Stiva bring Levin to meet her, they are appalled at her condition; Levin is moved by this beautiful, sad woman. Left alone with Vronsky, her jealousy leads to a desperate quarrel.
Vronsky leaves to visit his mother, and Anna fears he is leaving her forever. She contemplates an overdose of morphia and instead decides to follow him to the station to beg forgiveness. At the station, everything passes like a dream. Having missed Vronsky, Anna waits to follow him on the next train. She reviews the tortured life before her, and realises, as if a light had suddenly illumined her soul, that death would release her from its pain and responsibility. When the train arrives, she throws herself beneath it.
Later, after Anna’s death, Levin at his country estate in the spring cannot come to terms with the irony of life. Then, through the wisdom of his old nurse, he at last understands the reason for living: to live, love, and be loved; not to judge or envy others, nor to bewail their suffering; to accept life is everything in itself. His blind eyes have been opened.
Signum Classics © 2007
|Carlson: Anna Karenina|
With a libretto by the distinguished director Colin Graham after the novel by Leo Tolstoy, David Carlson's opera 'Anna Karenina' is premiered here, with commanding performances from members of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Saint Louis S ...» More