Opera North

The Seven Deadly Sins

Weill
Streamed on Available until Recorded on
Sung in
English
Subtitles in
English

Meet Anna and Anna: one person, two personalities. Sent away for seven years to make money for their struggling family, they journey between seven cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and encounter Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Envy on the way. As they do, they dance, sing, argue and withstand the sardonic commentary of their family.

Written and premiered in Paris in 1933, The Seven Deadly Sins was to be the final collaboration between the composer Kurt Weill and the playwright Bertolt Brecht. They had scored a huge hit together with The Threepenny Opera in 1928, but their relationship soured as they worked towards the premiere of the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in 1930. Brecht always felt that Weill was too much the dreamer and that his music needed words to make it relevant and practical. So the piece can be seen as a perfect metaphor for the fractured state of their relationship. It also functions on many other levels: as a critique of capitalism, of the church and of the way that women are treated in this society.

Cast

Anna I
Wallis Giunta
Anna II
Shelley Eva Haden
Father
Campbell Russell
Brother
Stuart Laing
Mother
Dean Robinson
Brother
Nicholas Butterfield
Orchestra
Orchestra of Opera North
...
Music
Kurt Weill
Text
Bertolt Brecht, English translation by Michael Feingold
Conductor
James Holmes
Director
Gary Clarke
Sets
George Johnson-Leigh
Lighting
Mike Lock
Costumes
George Johnson-Leigh, Stephen Rodwell
...

Video

Trailer

TRAILER | THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS Weill – Opera North

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Extract

My twin sister and I

Meet Anna and Anna: one person, two personalities. Sent away for seven years to make money for their struggling family, they journey between seven cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and encounter Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Envy on the way. As they do, they dance, sing, argue and withstand the sardonic commentary of their family.

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The story

Introduction

Anna I sets the scene, explaining the relationship between her and Anna II (that they are actually one person) and their task — to travel and make enough money for their family back in Louisiana to build a little house on the Mississippi River.

Sloth

Anna’s parents note that she has always been lazy. The family say a prayer that God will keep Anna on the path that leads to prosperity and happiness.

Pride

Anna I and Anna II arrive in Memphis and find a job as a cabaret dancer. Anna II tries to turn it into an art, but is scolded by Anna I, as that is not what the paying customers are after and she must give up her pride to give them what they want…

Anger

Anna I and Anna II are now in Los Angeles. Anna II witnesses acts of cruelty and rebels against injustice, but Anna I reminds her that such anger will make her unemployable, so she must set it aside.

Gluttony

The family has a letter from Anna in Philadelphia. Anna’s contract specifies that she may not gain any weight. They recall that she loves to eat but trust her to remember that a contract is a contract.

Lust

In Boston, Anna I and Anna II have attracted a wealthy admirer, but Anna II loves another man, who is poor. Anna I points out that the rich lover will not tolerate divided loyalty, and that they need the money. Anna II rebels, but reluctantly gives in.

Greed

The family learns that Anna is in Baltimore. Men are committing suicide over her, which will increase her earning power, but they fear she will get too greedy. They hope she will not make herself too unpopular to earn money.

Envy

In San Francisco, Anna II is worn out and envious of those who do not have to work hard. Anna I preaches of the need to renounce pleasure and promises a reward to come. The family agree, saying that strict self control is the path to glory.

Finale

Anna I and Anna II return to Louisiana after seven years. The house is complete.