Prince Andrei asks Natasha to dance a waltz/YouTube
From all the operas I saw this past year, one stands out for sheer size and scope — Sergei Prokofiev's version of Tolstoy's epic War and Peace.
On a panoramic canvas, the opera, with its 200-odd cast members and nearly five-hour length, bustles with the stuff of our lives, migrating through meaningful rites of passage — youth, ardor, marriage, war, peace, aging and death.
There's one special moment of happiness in this opera of sad events. The young, innocent Natasha, attending her first fancy ball, practically floats in delight when Prince Andrei asks her to dance a waltz.
He, too, is overwhelmed in the moment, and Prokofiev's music is a perfect match. The melody is feather-light and giddy, and the harmonies betray just a tinge of the heartache to come. It's beautiful and hopeful, encapsulated blissfully as if in a snow globe, and it takes place on New Year's Eve.
So here's a wish for a very Happy New Year furnished with hope and peace — and maybe even some wistful waltzing.