Opera Anna Karenina
Since 2014 I have been working on a large-scale opera, Anna Karenina, in cooperation with Quirijn de Lang. The opera will consist of three acts, each lasting about 45 minutes. Quirijn is responsible for the libretto in English.
We are now (early 2019) putting the finishing touches to Act II, hoping also to complete Act III later this year.
Tolstoy, the author of Anna Karenina, is one of Russia’s top authors. Born in 1828 and of noble ancestry, he was raised by relatives, his parents having died when he was a child. From an early age he sympathized with the hard lives of poor peasants. He founded schools for them and was himself a teacher to poor peasants’ children. As a young man Tolstoy fought in several wars, his experiences being reflected in his famous novel War and peace.
His Anna Karenina was originally published in instalments in 1877. Anna is married to the elderly high civil servant Karenin, but she falls in love with the young count Vronski. Their love affair is contrasted with the relationships of two couples. Levin (who strongly reminds us of Tolstoy himself) and Kitty encounter many difficulties in the early period of their marriage, but persist owing to Levin’s sense of duty. Stefan Oblonski and Dolly have been married unhappily for many years; Stefan lives frivolously but his wife endures for the sake of their children.
The novel has a balanced and harmonious composition. Arriving at the Saint Petersburg station, Anna hears that a railway employee has just died on the track. She comments: ‘A bad sign.’ Later she takes her own life by jumping in front of a train. The text is full of such parallelism and contrast, as well as symbolism and leitmotifs.
Meanwhile Quirijn and I have visited Opera North in Leeds to explain our plans. We were accompanied by Davo van Peursen, head of Donemus Publishing.
Act I is already available on paper; there are also a demo booklet and an audio demo containing some fragments.