The Seven Deadly Sins was first performed in the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris on 7 June 1933. It was produced, directed and choreographed by George Balanchine with mise en scène by Caspar Neher. The lead roles were played by Lotte Lenya (Anna I) and Tilly Losch (Anna II). Nils Grosch writes that it "was met with bewilderment by the French audience (not just because the work was sung entirely in German). German émigrés living in Paris, however, were enthusiastic and considered it 'a grand evening.'" The production went to London opening at the Savoy Theatre under the title Anna-Anna, on 28 June of the same year with an impromptu translation by Lenya.
Kurt Weill was commissioned to compose Die sieben Todsünden by Edward James, a wealthy Englishman who had been in Paris during Weill’s visit in December of 1932. James’s wife, Tilly Losch, was a ballerina who James himself described as having a striking resemblance to Weill’s wife, Lotte Lenya. Knowing that Weill was going to write for Lenya, James, in contracting Weill for the opera, included a clause for his wife, Losch, to dance opposite her lookalike. This set-in-stone the complicated split personality plot before Bertolt Brecht even knew he was the librettist.
It was revived by Weill's widow Lenya in the 1950s; however with the main singing part in version transposed to a fourth below its original pitch level which matched her new lower voice but did not correspond to his intentions. Another transposed version, down by a full octave, was used by Marianne Faithfull in her recording from 1997. The original higher version has been recorded by, among others, Elise Ross, Anne Sofie von Otter, Teresa Stratas and Anja Silja.
Patti LuPone sang the role of Anna in a new version of the ballet, produced by New York City Ballet in May 2011. The production was directed and choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett.