The Seven Deadly Sins, or Die Sieben Todsünden, in German, the language in which it is sung here, is the last major work by composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Bertolt Brecht. It is actually not a stage musical like The Threepenny Opera, but a musical accompaniment to a ballet, and was commissioned in 1933 by the Paris company Les Ballet and directed by Boris Kochno and George Balanchine. In its nine parts (the sins themselves, plus a "Prologue" and "Epilogue"), Brecht tells the story of Anna I and Anna II, sisters who are really one person, with one Anna singing and the other dancing the role. Always fascinated by America (a place he had not visited at the time), or at least by American place names -- just think of "Alabama Song" in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny -- Brecht has the Annas travel from their home in Louisiana to various cities in the U.S., encountering one sin after another and attempting to resist them. In 1933, Weill's wife Lotte Lenya sang Anna I, and 23 years later, as part of her contracts with Columbia Records in the U.S. and Philips Records in Europe to make new versions of Weill's work, she returned to the role, at least in the recording studio, for this album. Arranger/conductor Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg has transposed the music into a lower key to accommodate the 57-year-old singer, but Lenya handles the songs spiritedly, giving a definitive reading to one of the lesser known of the Brecht/Weill masterpieces.
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