Anna Karenina arrives in Moscow by train and is met by her brother Stiva and his wife Dolly. Count Vronsky is also at the station to meet his mother. Anna and Vronsky lock eyes momentarily until an accident grabs their attention: a train has been derailed.
Later on, Anna is the centre of attention at a party where she meets Vronsky again. Kitty, also infatuated with the count, is heart-broken when Vronsky turns his back on her and dances with Anna instead. Confused, Anna decides to return home to St. Petersburg.
Vronsky secretly slips onto the same train as Anna, and Anna confesses her feelings for him at a remote train station. Her husband, Alexei Karenin, and their son meet her in St. Petersburg. At a party, however, Anna and Vronsky can’t hold back their feelings, and Karenin’s efforts to get his wife to leave are futile. After a while, Anna and Vronsky meet again, contemplating the idea of a life together that feels both enticing and shameful.
When Vronsky is injured in a riding contest, Anna tries to go to his aid. It is too much for Karenin to take. Anna realises that she can’t live with a husband she’s not in love with – but neither can she bear the thought of losing her son. Feverish, Anna is plagued by nightmares, and upon waking, she wants to rescue her marriage and her family. Vronsky attempts suicide in desperation. Once Anna finds out, she decides to leave her family after all.
Anna and Vronsky elope to Italy, but Anna’s happiness is overshadowed by her longing for her son. She sees him briefly when she’s back in St. Petersburg, but both Karenin and the high society have turned against her. Anna notices that Vronsky’s feelings for her have changed, and she understands she has lost both her love and her son. She recalls the train accident at the station and the solution dawns on her. She now knows how to end her sorrow and her wretched life.
A full synopsis and background information are available in the programme booklet.