sign up button


Die sieben Todsünden (1933)

Ballet chanté in nine scenes.
Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht.

Performance Information
List of Movements

Photo of Tilly Losch and Lotte Lenya

Tilly Losch and Lotte Lenya as Anna II and Anna I,
from the original production, Paris, 1933.

Performance Information

English title: The Seven Deadly Sins
Cast: Anna I (soprano), Anna II (dancer), the Family (2 tenors, baritone, bass), corps de ballet.
Orchestra: 2 (2 picc).1.2.1;; harp, piano, banjo (guitar), timp, perc; strings.
Duration: 35 minutes
Published Editions: piano-vocal score (German-English), B. Schott's Söhne, 6005
Performance Rights and Rentals: USA: EAMC
All other territories: SCHOTT
Authorized Translations: English -- W.H. Auden & Chester Kallman; Michael Feingold
French -- Edouard Pfrimmer
First Production: June 7, 1933, Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, George Balanchine, chor., Maurice Abravanel, cond.

Guide to orchestration, territory abbreviations, and publishers' symbols.

List of Movements

1) Faulheit (Sloth)
2) Stolz (Pride)
3) Zorn (Wrath)
4) Völlerei (Gluttony)
5) Unzucht (Lust)
6) Habsucht (Covetousness)
7) Neid (Envy)


Anna I (who sings) and Anna II (who dances) are two facets of one personality. At the behest of her family, they travel to six different American cities in order to make enough money to build a little house on the banks of the Mississippi. In each city, she/they encounter a different deadly sin, and Anna I (the practical side) rebukes Anna II (the artistic side) for engaging in sinful behavior--that is, behavior which hinders the accumulation of wealth.

Anna I sets out the plot, explaining the relationship between her and Anna II ("Actually, we’re not two persons, only one") and their quest, and identifies the rest of the family: a mother, a father, and two brothers.

Anna's parents note that she has always been lazy but in other ways has been a dutiful child, while the brothers intone, "Idleness is mother of all vices." The Family closes with a prayer that God will keep Anna on the path that leads to prosperity and happiness.

Anna I and Anna II are in Memphis. Anna II's new clothes have made her stuck up. When she takes a job as an exotic dancer, she tries to turn it into art, to the displeasure of the paying customers. Anna I scolds her for her pride and reminds her that she must do what is demanded of her.

The Family notes with displeasure that the Annas have not been sending enough money. They are in Los Angeles, and things are going quite well until Anna II witnesses acts of cruelty and rebels against injustice. Then Anna I reminds her that such anger will make her unemployable and therefore useless, so she must set it aside.

The family has received a letter from the Annas in Philadelphia. They are making good money, but Anna II’s contract specifies that she may not gain any weight, even a gram. They recall that Anna II loves to eat and acknowledge her hardship but trust her to remember that a contract is a contract.

In Boston, Anna II has found a wealthy lover, but she prefers another man, who is poor. Anna I points out that the rich lover will not tolerate divided loyalty. Anna II rebels, but finally gives in reluctantly and renounces the poor lover.

The Family learns that the Annas are in Baltimore. Men are committing suicide over Anna II, which will increase her earning power, but they fear she will get too greedy. They hope she will be moderate and not make herself too unpopular to earn money.

From San Francisco, Anna I tells us that Anna II is worn out and envious of those who do not have to work hard. Anna I preaches of the need to renounce the pleasures of the world and promises a reward to come. The Family seconds her, saying that strict self-control is the path to glory.

The Annas return to Louisiana after seven years. The house is complete, and they rejoin the Family.


Sony CD MHK 63222; Sony Classical 82876 78754 2; reissued on Line Music CD 5.00991; reissued on Membran Music 232580; reissued on Sony Classical 88691932192 Lotte Lenya, Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg, cond. [arrangement]
Polydor CD 429 333-2 reissued on Berlin Classics CD 0013752BC Gisela May, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Herbert Kegel, cond. [arrangement]
Kebec LP KD-977 Pauline Julien, Jacques Marchand, cond. [arrangement]
EMI Classics CD 7 64739 2
reissued on EMI Classics 50999 6 97185 2 6
Elise Ross, Simon Rattle, cond. [original keys]
CBS CD MK 44529 reissued on Sony CD SBK91129 Julia Migenes, Michael Tilson Thomas, cond. [arrangement]
Decca CD CD 430168-2 Ute Lemper, RIAS Berlin Sinfonietta, John Mauceri, cond. [arrangement]
Tonkühn CD 001 Serena Wey, Basel Sinfonietta, Mark Fitz-Gerald, cond. [original keys]
Cleveland Orchestra CD CO 093-75 Anja Silja, Cleveland Orchestra, Christopher von Dohnányi, cond. [original keys]
Capriccio CD
CD 60 028-1
Doris Bierett, Kölner Rundfunkorchester, Lothar Zagrosek, cond. [arrangement]
Harmonia Mundi CD
CD HMC 901420; reissued on HMA 1951420
Brigitte Fassbaender, Radio Philharmonie Hannover des NDR, Cord Garben, cond. [original keys]
Deutsche Grammophon CD 439 894-2 Anne Sofie von Otter, Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, John Eliot Gardiner, cond. [original keys]
Teldec CD 4509-95029-2
reissued on Warner Classics & Jazz/Teldec 2564 69735-8
reissued on Elatus 2564 60117 2
Angelina Réaux, New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur, cond. [original keys]
Deutsche Schallplatten CD DS 1048-2 Pascal von Wroblewsky, Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin, Mario Vencago, cond. [arrangement]
Erato CD 0630-17068-2 Teresa Stratas, Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon, Kent Nagano, cond. [original keys]
RCA/Reverso CD 74321 601192 Marianne Faithfull, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, cond. [original keys, one octave lower; sung in English]
Brigadoon CD BIS 040 Jasperina de Jong, Rotterdam Young Philharmonic, Henk Guittart, cond. [original keys]
Hänssler CD
CD 93.109
Anja Silja, SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern, Grzegorz Nowak, cond. [original keys]
Video (VHS) Decca 071 166-3;
449 071 266-3
DVD: Kultur D2904
Teresa Stratas (Anna I), Nora Kimball (Anna II), Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon, Kent Nagano, cond., Peter Sellars, dir. [original keys]