Anna Karenina (Hamilton)

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Anna Karenina is an opera in three acts by Scottish composer Iain Hamilton. The libretto, based on Leo Tolstoy's novel, Anna Karenina was written by the composer. Anna Karenina was premiered on May 7, 1981 at the London Coliseum by the English National Opera in a performance conducted by Howard Williams with Lois McDonall in the title role.[1] The director was Colin Graham and the designers were Ralph Koltai and Annena Stubbs. Its running time is approximately two and a quarter hours.[2]

Background and performance history[edit]

Anna Karenina was the fifth of Hamilton's ten operas.[3] Conrad Wilson in his 2000 obituary for the composer wrote that "inside Hamilton there was always a romantic composer struggling to get out [...] it finally exploded in Anna Karenina, a poignantly Mahlerian treatment of Tolstoy's novel."[4] Hamilton composed Anna Karenina, a commission from English National Opera, in 1978, and published the score in 1979. It was first staged on May 7, 1981, by ENO in a production directed by Colin Graham with sets by Ralph Koltai and costumes by Anena Stubbs.[1] Anna Karenina had its American premiere on March 16, 1983 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles and ran for three nights under the baton of Chris Nance. It was staged by the now defunct Los Angeles Opera Theatre in a production using screen projections as backdrops rather than traditional sets.[5] It is not known whether the opera has had any subsequent performances. The American composer David Carlson also wrote an opera, premiered in 2007, based on the Tolstoy's novel; the libretto of his Anna Karenina was written by Colin Graham, the director of the 1981 production of Hamilton's version.[6]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 7 May 1981[7]

(Conductor: Howard Williams)

Anna Karenina soprano Lois McDonall
Alexei Karenin, her husband baritone Geoffrey Chard
Count Alexei Vronsky, her lover tenor Geoffrey Pogson
Stiva, her brother baritone Alan Opie
Dolly, Stiva's wife mezzo-soprano Della Jones
Kitty, Stiva's sister-in-law soprano Janis Kelly
Countess Vronskaya, Vronsky's mother soprano Ava June
Prince Yashvin, Vronsky's friend baritone Malcolm Rivers
Countess Betsy mezzo-soprano Katherine Pring
Countess Lydia mezzo-soprano Shelagh Squires
Landau, a French clairvoyant tenor Stuart Kale



  1. ^ a b Dean, Winton (1981). "Music in London: Anna Karenina". The Musical Times Vol. 122, No. 1661 (July 1981), p. 487. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b Theodore Presser Company. Iain Hamilton: Works Archived June 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  3. ^ Friedberg, Ruth C. and Morris, Francis J.. "Hamilton, Iain (Ellis)". Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians via Grove Music Online. Retrieved 1 December 2010 (subscription required).
  4. ^ Wilson, Conrad (August 5, 2000)."Obituary: Iain Hamilton". The Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  5. ^ Central Opera Service Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 1982). "New Operas and Premieres" p. 6. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  6. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (April 30, 2007). "The Passions of Anna: A Period Opera Takes on a Love Triangle". New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  7. ^ Review in Opera, July 1981, p. 748

External links[edit]