Reviews: Seven Deadly Sins

12 Nov 2015

The curtain has fallen on Victorian Opera’s 2015 Season following the company’s final production for the year, Seven Deadly Sins.

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Meow Meow in Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: Charlie Kinross

Cabaret sensation Meow Meow mesmerised an audience of over 2,000 people at Hamer Hall with her performance as Anna in Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. As a prelude to her performance, Victorian Opera premiered new compositions by four of Australia’s leading young composers, Julian Langdon, Mark Viggiani, Jessica Wells and Ian Whitney. Assigned a sin associated with a major Australian capital, these eclectic new works were performed by the graduating class of Victorian Opera’s developing artists.

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Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: Charlie Kinross

Here's what the critics thought:

“Meow Meow proved an emotive, intensely physical heroine: pain, weariness and resignation in voice and gesture, dishevelled couture by Linda Britten squeezing and objectifying a fallen woman, and a handful of props and set elements — suitcases and piles of shoes — serving as symbols of futile ­drudgery. Joseph Mercurio’s lighting added sinister tones. Angular beams created shadowy pockets and Anna’s family were grotesquely uplit within an upstage frame — an Orwellian sleight of hand by director Cameron Menzies that enabled fascistic scrutiny of Anna’s every move.”

– The Australian

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Meow Meow in Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: Charlie Kinross

"This clever one-night-only double-bill, presented by Victorian Opera, united Kurt Weill's brilliantly acerbic ballet chanté of 1933, Die Sieben Todsünden (his final collaboration with Bertolt Brecht), with a freshly contemporary Seven Deadly Sins, by four young Australian composers, who also wrote their own texts.”

“Expertly, succinctly conducted by Tahu Matheson, who drew fine playing from Orchestra Victoria, and neatly directed by Cameron Menzies, making the most of the narrow performing space.”

"Weill and Brecht's eternal parable of the sinning sisters, Anna 1 and Anna 2, was invested with smouldering earnestness by the extraordinary Meow Meow, who sang (in fine, idiomatic German) and danced both roles.”

– The Age

“Victorian Opera has chalked up another triumph with its spotlight on mankind’s failings."

“The impact of Meow Meow'sperformance derives from her highly charged personal charisma and her ability to use her body and voice to present a finely honed characterisation. In the dual personalities of singer/dancer Anna 1 and Anna 2 of Die Sieben Todsünden, she could be heard before she could be seen as labored breathing heralded her torturous climb onto the stage from the front of the stalls. A picture of exhausted fragile beauty she nevertheless lugged suitcases up onto the platforms set on either side of the stage and gave a spectacular display of athletic dancing during a couple of the orchestral passages. Sometimes weak and breathy, at other times strong and earthy, Meow Meow’s vocal nuance was as subtle as her body language when even the direction of a gaze spoke volumes. This was such a mesmerising display of inspired theatricality that it was well nigh impossible to focus on much else.”

"Whether as the energetic Team Australia cheer squad for a succession of politicians, or as the pollies themselves, the singers generated a level excitement for Jessica Wells’ witty Canberra/Pride segment that was much appreciated by the audience. Of course, Tony Abbott’s red budgie smugglers and his repetitious slogans and mangling of the English language were inevitable inclusions, but political bias was averted as Julia and Kevin were also unthroned."

– Classic Melbourne

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Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: Charlie Kinross

“Conductor Tahu Matheson presided over a sterling performance from Orchestra Victoria, allowing the new music sound familiar, comfortable and suitably interrelated. The quality of the compositions brought out the very best in the musicians and singers.”

“The seven cast members, graduating members of Victorian Opera’s Masters of Music (Opera Performance) program performed with great confidence, flair and polish. The singers looked quite divine in couture costumes from Linda Britten in glossy Australian blue, red and white.”

“Meow Meow lands all of these emotions and more, singing the German text with breathy wonder. A balletic clown, the petite actress moves from physical comedy to pathos, vulnerability to resilience, sensuality to brawn, sorrow to glee, elegance to ungainly contortion, all in the flick of an eyelash.”

Simon Parris: Man In Chair

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Meow Meow in Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: Charlie Kinross

Seven Deadly Sins was part of Victorian Opera's Season 2015.