Opening of Madama Butterfly

Anna Karenina

Cuttlefish in Anna KareninaAt the moment I am reading the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace. Though I attended a performance of Prokofiev's opera at the Met a few years ago, I stubbornly refused to read the titles. Thus I did not manage to piece together the plot, as my Russian skills are minimal, so the book has not been spoilt for me. Last month I finished reading Anna Karenina, unwittingly following one Ms. Winfrey, whose show I have never watched. Most of Part 5, Chapter 33 of Anna Karenina occurs at the opera.

Vronsky, listening with one ear, moved his opera glass from the stalls and scanned the boxes. Near a lady in a turban and a bald old man, who seemed to wave angrily in the moving opera glass, Vronsky suddenly caught sight of Anna's head, proud, strikingly beautiful, and smiling in the frame of lace. She was in the fifth box, twenty paces from him. She was sitting in front, and slightly turning, was saying something to Yashvin. The setting of her head on her handsome, broad shoulders, and the restrained excitement and brilliance of her eyes and her whole face reminded him of her just as he had seen her at the ball in Moscow. But he felt utterly different towards her beauty now. In his feeling for her now there was no element of mystery, and so her beauty, though it attracted him even more intensely than before, gave him now a sense of injury. She was not looking in his direction, but Vronsky felt that she had seen him already.