A Deliciously Sinful Year

Coming to The Shedd in February, Seven Deadly Sins inspires art at New Zone this First Friday

Eugene singer Siri Vik has regularly performed music by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht — pieces from The Three Penny Opera and The Rise And Fall of the City of Mahagonny — practically since she first brought her operatic voice to The Shedd almost a decade ago.

But no one here has tried staging Weill and Brecht’s entire original 1933 ballet chanté (“sung ballet”) The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petit-Bourgeoisie. Until now.

On Friday, Feb. 22, Vik — along with co-conspirators Caitlin Christopher, Bill Hulings, Dylan Stasack and Cloud Pemble — will open a fully staged version of The Seven Deadly Sins for a two-performance run in The Shedd’s Jaqua Concert Hall.

“Everyone does this piece and they always do it, in my view, wrong, and it ticks me off,” says Jim Ralph, artistic director of The Shedd. “I’m convinced Siri can do it right — with respect and understanding of Brecht and Weill’s original vision.”

The show premiered in Paris in 1933 with Weill’s wife, Lotte Lenya, and Tilly Losch, a ballerina who closely resembled Lenya in appearance, playing the lead roles of Anna I and Anna II. They represent the angelic and demonic sides of a single character. The director and choreographer was George Ballanchine.

 W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman translated Brecht’s German libretto for the show to English in the 1950s. 

As part of the run-up to the performance, the New Zone Gallery, which has lost the lease on its downtown space and must move or close by the end of January, will exhibit art inspired by the traditional seven sins — which are, in performance order, Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Envy — at an exhibit opening during the First Friday ArtWalk on Jan. 4.

Writer and artist Joseph Lieberman — in the past a regular contributor to Eugene Weekly — coordinated the exhibit, which will be hung in the gallery’s Klausmeier Room.

“This will be a uniquely cooperative blending of art, music, theater and dance, with a subject as relevant to today’s lifestyles and politics as it was when the list of seven deadly sins first appeared in the fourth century,” Lieberman says. “All seven sins represent patterns of dysfunction within us that eventually lead to unhappiness or worse.”

Lieberman will be showing prints from a series of drawings he made of the seven deadly sins decades ago “during a time of turmoil in my life.” Other artists with work in the show include Shirley Collins, Robert Horner, Dennis Duvaul, Robin Levin, Steve LaRiccia, Dianne Story Cunningham, Ellen Gabehart, sandy sanders, Marilyn Marcus, Barbora Bakalarova, christe brunson, Betsy Huffsmith and Julie Williams.

In February, a larger version of the exhibit — about 40 works in all — will move to The Shedd, where it will be exhibited in the Sheffer Recital Hall during the weekend of the performances.