Seven Deadly Sins for Dutch National Opera

On March 16th 2021 ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ premiered as livestream at the Opera Forward Festival by Dutch National Opera. The piece was directed by stage director Ola Mafaalani. This music theatre piece was written by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht as a so-called Ballet Chanté. Especially for the live stream, a film was created live on stage by film director Marc deMeyer and cinematographers Gregor Meerman and Hosje van Erkel. In the timeframe of the performance, set designer and visual artist André Joosten created a painting.

In this piece two sides of the persona ‘Anna’ are shown. She comes from a poor family in Louisiana. Anna I and II make a journey to seven city’s. At each stop they commit a capital sin.The Anna’s are performed by Eva-Maria Westbroek and Anna Drijver.
Director Ola Mafaalani in an interview with daily newspaper Trouw: “(…) I consciously sought to direct the eye of the spectator. In a normal theatre performance you can do that by putting a light on the subject, now we had to use the camera to do that.With the camera I sometimes wonder away from the main action, guessing what the spectators would look at. Maybe they want to see the conductor, maybe the far end of the stage, or a violinist. I try to catch this behaviour. Sometimes I show, through the camera, the field of view of the singer or the actress, so you can see the empty auditorium. I did not hide or clean the technicalities. It is all in plain view.”

In the lighting design we choose to enhance this idea, by having a mobile follow spot point a light wherever the camera is looking. By doing this we created an almost overexposed and raw image, that resembles the style of a war documentary.

Because the whole stage and the whole auditorium could be in the shot at any given moment, we created an open and layered image, in which cold light and warm light alternate. This open image in which everything can be seen is in fact an ode to Berthold Brecht. The painting that André Joosten paints live during the play also had to act as a third leading role. It is always visible in the background. For example, partly due to the landscape of light, it was suggested that there could be a city in the distance to which the Annas could still go. The city in the painting slowly builds up until after the last part of the piece the canvas is erased with water and returns to the emptiness of the beginning, only now dirty and dirty.


Conductor: Erik Nielsen
Stage direction: Ola Mafaalani
Film director: Marc de Meijer NSC
Cinematography: Gregor Meerman NSC en Josje van Erkel NSC
Set and live-painting: André Joosten
Costumes: Regine Standfuss
Light design: Floriaan Ganzevoort in cooperation with Sharon Huizinga
Orchestra: Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest
Anna I: Eva-Maria Westbroek
Anna II: Anna Drijver
Brother: Michael Wilmering
Mother: Peter Arink
Father: Marcel Reijans
Brother: Erik Slik