When Sergei Prokofiev started work on a new opera, having just finished his opera Betrothal In A Monastery, he could not have envisaged that the theme, borrowed from Tolstoy's novel War And Peace, would very soon become dreadful reality. It was just two months later that the German invasion of the Soviet Union began. By the way of the conscious parallel to Napoleon's historic invasion of Russia, Prokofiev's opera became an attempt to strengthen the defense morale of his follow countrymen in this "patriotic war," as Soviet historians of the Second World War call it. Prokofiev's opera is divided into two separate parts. The first seven scenes depict the carefree, splendid life amongst the Russian aristocracy and put the love story, which ends through Natasha's deception, into the centre. The seventh scene ends with the announcement that war has begun. The following six scenes of part two are dedicated to events during the war, beginning with the battle of Borodino and ending with the escape of the Grande Armee and the liberation of Moscow. Although the first draft of the opera was meant to have been performed in two parts, on two separate evenings, the opera was eventually trimmed down to fit into a single performance. However, Prokofiev would not live to see his opera performed in its entirety.