The Only Problem: It's Too Short
Ken Schellenberg | Arlington, VA United States | 09/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Avant garde director Peter Sellars stages the concert piece by Weill and Brecht as a classical music MTV-style video. This turns out to be a great way to visualize the piece. Sellers chooses different color schemes for each of the seven deadly sins (envy is of course green) and uses different costumes for each segment. The music (and the text) lend themselves nicely to this approach, and so while frantically-edited MTV style video of a 1920s concert piece may at first blush seem an anachronism, it actually works quite well as entertainment.Two other quick notes. Teresa Stratas (of "The Unknown Weill" CD) is a fine interpretter of Weill, on a par with the fabulous Ute Lemper. Technically, the way Sellars staged this makes it appear as if the performers are actually singing on camera (perhaps they are?). This gives an authenticy to the performances that the quick frantic editing doesn't detract from."
A must for sellars' fans
J. Yoon | Tucson, AZ USA | 08/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are interested in contemporary settings for a classical opera, or any "modern" opera, I suggest you to buy this together with Mozart-da Ponte trilogy (Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte). Showing short film strips in transitions with no audio was extremely clever idea, allowing some time for the viewer to think. Although somewhat old production, audio is fabulous, with incredible singing and orchestral playing."
Bourgeois virtue = vice
Kerry Walters | Lewisburg, PA USA | 02/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The full title of this incredible ballet chante by Kurt Weill (libretto by Bertold Brecht) is "The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie." The last collaboration between Weill and Brecht, the ballet has nine scenes, one for each of the deadly sins plus a prologue and an epilogue. The action revolves around two sisters (or are they two personae of one and the same character?), Anna I and Anna II. Anna I is the primary singer, Anna II the primary dancer. The setting is the United States.
The two sisters are sent out by their family to make money and salvage the family's fortune. Along the way, they fall into "sin." But the depiction of sin has a deliciously satirical and anti-bourgeois spin in which Weill and Brecht in fact unmask typical middle-class virtues as vices. The transvaluation is really breath-taking.
So is Peter Sellars' creative direction, as well as the performance of the entire company. Sellars turns the leeching family into southern white trash that aspires to tacky middle class status, and the series of video-montage that punctuate and divide the scenes is brilliant. Teresa Stratas leads the superbly skilled company of singers, and her facial expressions and body language accentuate the beautiful tones of her voice. But for my money, Nora Kimball, Anna II, steals the show. Almost without a speaking voice in the ballet chante, Kimball's sensitive dancing is just as expressive of (variously) excitement, grief, belligerence, weariness, and homesickness as any libretto could be.
A masterful production. The artists are magnificent. If your experience when you watch The Seven Deadly Sins is similar to mine, you'll be torn between admiration for the aesthetics of the piece and uneasiness over its unsettling presentation of truths about middle class complacency that most of us would rather not hear."
Great music, great singing, HORRID direction
Bill C. | Eastern Virginia | 07/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Teresa Stratas is the very best interpreter of Weill in the modern day (Ute Lemper's hysterically exaggerated emotionalism is just inappropriate for this very spare, almost intellectual music), and she and the other singers and musicians do a fine job. However, Sellars' frenetic and distracting camera work and direction ruin what should have been a 5-star production. A shame as it's the only video record of Stratas singing this music. You might want to rent this first; I wouldn't buy it after having seen it. Too irritating to watch."