Lilla Pártay / Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky / Zoltán Rácz

Anna Karenina


Introductory presentation with video screening

Lilla Pártay's first full-length creative work is a dance drama of international calibre. With extraordinary meticulousness, the choreographer has employed the steps of both classical and modern ballet in the same way that she has also wonderfully combined Tchaikovsky's classical music with the modern sounds of Zoltán Rácz and the Amadinda Percussion Ensemble. Speaking about the adaptation process, she herself said: “When I started, I wanted to take everything in the novel for my own version of Anna Karenina: starting from the powerful and affecting horse racing episode all the way to the death of Levin's brother. After that, the plot gradually simplified, and I focused more and more on the inner life of the characters: on their destinies and sufferings.” The essence of the monumental novel is being brought to life on the ballet stage in a dramatic performance brimming with emotions.

Hungarian-language discussion programme


Opera House - Confectionary on the 3rd floor


After a musical prelude that lingers as an open question, the scene opens on the Moscow railway station, where the train is just arriving. Among the disembarking passengers are all of the major characters: Anna with her husband and son; her brother, Stiva, and his wife, Dolly; and Dolly's sister, Kitty, who first falls in love with Count Vronsky, but in the end finds happiness at the side of Levin. They are all here, as are Countess Lydia, the Karenins' governess, and Princess Betsy, intriguer of Saint Petersburg salons, and even a certain bearded little peasant who, like some kind of death motif, is always there to accompany Anna's fate. Count Vronsky appears; he and Anna meet for the first time. 

Act I
Scene 1
A glittering ballroom. At the head of his cadets dances the handsome Count Vronsky, with yearning female eyes fixed on him from every direction. The entire company dances at the ball. Levin, too, has come up from his country estate, secretly hoping that the opportunity will arise for him to ask for Kitty's hand. Kitty, however, frustrates the marriage proposal with her conduct, since she is holding out her heart for the irresistible Vronsky. A few minutes later, though, she too must face reality: Anna and Vronsky have felt a spark of love for each other. The dance continues, and out of the random swirl emerge the two eventual couples: Anna and Vronsky, and Kitty and Levin. 

Scene 2
Karenin's room. Anna's husband is waiting for her to return home. He is uneasy, but when Anna arrives, she is again unapproachably cold and haughty. There is quarrelling and recriminations over Anna's infatuated behaviour at the ball. After struggling, Anna resolves to move in with Vronsky, with whom she is in love. 

Scene 3
Anna seeks out Vronsky, and they spend the night in each other's arms. Around their “nuptial” bed, like planets around the sun, the other suffering characters all appear in a fantasy: Kitty, who is now hopeless in love with Vronsky; Levin, whom Kitty has rejected; the deserted Karenin; and finally, just as the curtain is about to close, the little hairy muzhik: the symbol of death. 

Act II
Scene 1
Several months have passed. There is a late-night commotion underway in the house of Kitty's family. Levin again asks for Kitty's hand, and this time the girl reciprocates his affection. The engagement is sealed with rustic Russian music. Anna visits Dolly, her brother's wife. She has come to ask for Dolly's help: she needs her to intercede with Karenin, so that Anna can divorce him and take her child with her. Anna informs Dolly that she is carrying Vronsky's baby. 

Scene 2
Outside the delivery room, Vronsky and Karenin are both waiting anxiously. Each man holds the other responsible for the current situation. The child is born, and at Anna's insistence, the two men shake hands with each other in front of the maternity bed. Tormented by psychological and physical suffering and delirious, Anna experiences a vision. In her imagination, she sees the happy wedding of Kitty and Levin unfolding, which is also happening in reality at that moment. The dream only increases Anna's loneliness. In her imagination, she sees how the “sinful” woman is ostracised from society, as the wedding party indifferently files past Anna's sickbed. Again appearing among the characters is the figure of the peasant, symbolising death. At the end of the vision, Vronsky returns for Anna. He takes her in his arms, like a child, and takes her away with him. 

Scene 1
Anna and Vronsky travel through Italy, living the last happy period of their lives far away from Russia. 

Scene 2
Karenin's house in Saint Petersburg. The governess, Countess Lydia, is putting Anna's son to bed. Also present is Karenin, whose armour of reserve resists the insinuations from the governess that that she would be glad to take Anna's place in his heart. Anna decides that despite the promise she made to her husband, she will visit her son in secret. The child had previously been told that his mother was no longer alive. The little boy happily clings to Anna's neck. Greatly upset, Anna departs. 

Scene 3
Full of shame, Anna arrives at the hotel room that she and Vronsky are renting. When Vronsky returns home, she directs all of her bitterness at him, blasting him for their unresolvable problems and their impossible and vulnerable position, in both a social and and an emotional sense. From this, it emerges that Anna is jealous of everyone, and is now making life a living hell for both herself and the now infuriated Vronsky, who answers her rudely and even strikes her, although he immediately regrets this. Anna practically swoons as she sinks to the bed. Claiming an urgent matter, he literally flees from the room. Appearing now is Death, whose dancing draws Anna into a vicious circle. There's no way back. Anna slowly rises and, as if in a hypnotic trance, follows Death from the scene. 

Scene 4
The route takes Anna to the train station, the place where she and Vronsky first met. The unfolding reverie is cut off, now forever, by a sudden sharp whistle, screaming brakes, and a great din: Anna has leapt in front of the train. Her dead body is gradually surrounded by the familiar characters. The survivors continue to suffer through their own fates: Anna's death is not a redemptive one. 

András Batta