Kenneth MacMillan’s production of The Seven Deadly Sins for Granada television was his third treatment of the Brecht/Weill “ballet with songs” and was substantially different from the other two. For this production, MacMillan added a prologue to music from Brecht/Weill’s The Threepenny Opera showing Anna arriving at Ellis Island in New York Harbour along with other refugees from Europe. Two, danced by Birgit Keil and Vladimir Klos of Stuttgart Ballet, are denied entry to the New World.
The Dancing Anna was Alessandra Ferri, then a twenty-year old, whose star was then strongly in the ascendant at the Royal Ballet. The more worldly Singing Anna was the Australian soprano, Marie Angel.
For Mary Clarke, writing in The Guardian, MacMillan’s staging was assured and definitive. “Cabaret style and sinful dance come easily to him; visually it was stunning”. To John Percival of The Times it seemed that MacMillan’s choreography had a natural affinity with television with the Ellis Island prologue making it possible for Derek Bailey, who directed, to establish the silent-movie style of the production.
“This permits MacMillan to write in roles for Birgit Keil and Vladimir Klos, two exceptionally photogenic and expressive dancers. After that, the main asset of the show is Alessandra Ferri, her ubiquitous innocently sexy presence ravishingly displayed in a series of exiguous garments by Yolanda Sonnabend, responding to every misadventure with dogged enthusiasm.”
First performance: Granada TV, 22 April 1984
Company: The Royal Ballet
Cast: Alessandra Ferri, Marie Angel, Leslie Brown, David Taylor, Birgit Keil, Vladimir Klos, Mary Miller, Stephen Roberts, John Tomlinson, Robert Tear, Robin Leggate, Peter Baldwin, Robert North, Christopher Bruce, April Olrich, Kim Rosato, Wayne Aspinall, Peter Salmon
Music: Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, Seven Deadly Sins
Director: Derek Bailey
Design: Yolanda Sonnabend
VIdeo: Granada TV, running time 51’ 14”